Native American Tourism Study

The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), in collaboration with the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Department of Commerce (DOC), seeks to identify where technical assistance is needed to empower Indian Tribes, Tribal Organizations and Native Hawaiian organizations to participate fully in the tourism industry and to provide recommendations on coordination and delivery of technical assistance. AIANTA has retained SMS Research, a Hawai‘i-based company, to undertake this study.

Public Comment

American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian Tourism Technical Assistance

We value your inputs. Have a read and provide your comments on the SWOC Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Challenges) and Survey findings using the form below.

Research findings will be presented at the American Indian Tourism Conference in California.

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AIANTA Native American Tourism Technical Assistance Survey

As an important stakeholder in the Native American community and the tourism industry, we invite you to take this survey to determine the level of need for technical assistance. This survey has been designed to take between 8-10 minutes. All the information gathered in this survey will be reported in aggregate and all responses will be kept completely confidential.

Native Tourism Study Resources

AIANTA & SMS Research Cement Agreement to Conduct Comprehensive Tourism Planning Study

Honolulu-based SMS Research will conduct a comprehensive tourism study in partnership with AIANTA, with results to be reported to the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (March 7, 2022) – Albuquerque-based American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) and Honolulu-based SMS Research are partnering to conduct a comprehensive assessment with respect to the Native tourism industry. Report methodology will include data collection as well as consultation with tourism, hospitality, cultural and community stakeholders.

The final report, which will identify the most-needed areas for technical assistance and training with respect to building and growing a robust cultural tourism industry for Native communities, will be used as a planning document as AIANTA rolls out its future educational programming. Study results will first be revealed at the 24th Annual American Indian Tourism Conference, Oct. 24-27, 2022, in San Diego County, and will also be presented to the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“We are thrilled to sign this agreement with SMS Research, an industry leader in hospitality data and trends collection,” said Sherry L. Rupert, AIANTA CEO. “The Honolulu-based SMS has a long history of working with the Hawaii Tourism Authority and is particularly sensitive to the issues that directly affect the nation’s Native communities.”

AIANTA previously partnered with SMS in 2021, when the research agency conducted the Economic Impact of Indian Country Tourism, the first-ever report to detail the economic impact of Native tourism. The study, which collected U.S. Census data, revealed that Native tourism and hospitality businesses in the United States generate more than $14 billion dollars in annual receipts.

“This project will provide the data needed to guide recovery efforts and to help develop a stronger visitor industry in the United States that is more responsive to Native communities and to the sustainability of their destinations,” said Tim Carson, CEO of SMS Research.

The study is being conducted as one component of a Memorandum of Understanding entered into between the United States Department of the Interior, (DOI), the Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) in 2018, in which AIANTA was designated as a facilitator of the NATIVE Act. This study is being funded with NATIVE Act funds.