The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) recognized the best tribal destinations and tourism industry leaders at its annual Enough Good People Industry Awards program. The awardees were announced on September 16, 2020, during the 22nd Annual American Indian Tourism Conference—the organization’s first-ever virtual conference. The annual recognition pays tribute to industry leaders in three categories: Tribal Destination of the Year, Best Cultural Heritage Experience and Excellence in Customer Service, as well as celebrating the Industry Professional of the Year.
“We are thrilled to present our Enough Good People Industry Award to four outstanding awardees that represent the best of Indian Country tourism,” said Sherry L. Rupert, CEO of AIANTA. “All of our awardees and nominees personify the amazing work being done to promote cultural heritage tourism in Indian Country and we congratulate them all.”
The Tribal Destination of the Year was awarded to Cherokee Nation. Home to six museums, including the new Cherokee National History Museum, which opened last year. Cherokee Nation has been the recipient of numerous top industry awards.
The Arizona Indian Festival earned the Best Cultural Heritage Experience award. The inter-tribal event features traditional dwellings, songs and dances, as well as storytelling, native foods and arts and crafts demonstrations.
Cherokee Nation also earned the top spot in Excellence in Customer Service, which was awarded to Linda Taylor, who has helped manage Cherokee Nation Business’ cultural destinations, including the Cherokee Nation Gift Shop, for nearly three decades.
AIANTA has also been honoring the top tribal tourism champions since 2012 through its Industry Professional of the Year award, which this year was awarded to Bonnie Sprague (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe), the general manager of the Soaring Eagle Waterpark. Sprague has earned a long line of customer service awards during her career, including the Outstanding Citizen of the Year award from Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce earlier this year.
Nominees for AIANTA’s Enough Good People Industry Awards must meet minimum standards for each category while also working to advance AIANTA’s mission to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions and values.