Why We Travel
Dear Members and Friends,
Why we travel . My answer to that question changes with each trip I take, but an underlying motivation for my travel has always been to go beyond the known, and to venture out, experiencing new places, and new people. I have taken the path less traveled and also seen some of the world’s biggest cities. 

I have traveled with a guide and without one; I am always amazed how much richer my experiences have been with a local guide walking alongside me calling out points of interest I would have never known otherwise. When I think of a tour guide, I think of gaining special access to a new place with a trusted companion who shows me a new way to understand and experience the culture, stories, buildings, landscapes, food and more that defines a place. Tour guides help us see these new places from their perspective – giving context to the big world we share.

There are, of course, many guides that direct and support our work and our play. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has been struggling to find a path to react and respond to the health and economic impacts. Native Nations and communities have stayed the course of healing and protecting our people and continue to act as our guides. 

As each Tribal Nation and Native community evaluates next steps to reopen tourism operations, a guide that may prove helpful was released last week by the U.S. Travel Association Industry Guidance for Promoting the Health and Safety of All Travelers . This guide was developed to help the travel and tourism industry navigate the varying challenges of COVID-19 that must be addressed to rebuild tourism destinations and programming. The guide was formed in collaboration with health and medical professionals and travel industry representatives and aligns with the CDC guidelines for " Opening Up America Again ."

The guide focuses on the following (view full guidance here ):
  • Travel businesses should adapt operations, modify employee practices and/or redesign public spaces to help protect employees and customers.
  • Travel businesses should consider implementing touchless solutions, where practical, to limit the opportunity for virus transmission while also enabling a positive travel experience.
  • Travel businesses should adopt and implement enhanced sanitation procedures specifically designed to combat the transmission of COVID-19.
  • Travel businesses should promote health screening measures for employees and isolate workers with possible COVID-19 symptoms and provide health resources to customers.
  • Travel businesses should establish a set of procedures aligned with CDC guidance should an employee test positive for COVID-19.
  • Travel businesses should follow best practices in food and beverage service to protect the health of employees and customers.

In the reopening phasing of your tourism operations and destinations, I know there are and will be significant challenges. There will also be significant opportunities to shape a new vision of success that is sustainable and will protect our quality of life, one that provides for a safe environment and adopts new technology to manage visitors. As native people, we will find our way because we are guided and strengthened by those who came before us, those who share the path with us now, and those who will travel it after we are gone. 

The AIANTA family is proud to travel this path with you.

Until we meet again,

Sherry L. Rupert, Chief Executive Officer
American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA)