East Hawaii News

U.S. Senate Passes NATIVE Act Co-Introduced by Schatz

April 26, 2016, 12:00 PM HST
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United States Senator Brian Schatz. United State Senate photo.

United States Senator Brian Schatz. United State Senate photo.

Legislation introduced by Senators Brian Schatz and John Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, to enhance and integrate native tourism, empower native communities, and expand unique cultural tourism opportunities passed the United States Senate unanimously.

The Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act will require federal agencies with tourism assets and responsibility to include tribes and native organizations in national tourism efforts and strategic planning.

Companion legislation was introduced by U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin in September within the House of Representatives.

Senator Schatz, who is the co-chair of the Senate Tourism Caucus, said he authored the bill because native communities in the U.S. are “unique and have histories and cultures that can only be shared in America.”

“In our state, we are proud that the Native Hawaiian contribution is foundational to who we are as a place and a people,” said Senator Schatz. “Every visitor should know that.”

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In addition to inclusion in tourism efforts and strategic planning, the legislation provides Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, and American Indian communities an opportunity to build sustainable recreational and cultural travel and tourism infrastructure and capacity, spur economic development, and create jobs.

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“Travel and tourism provide massive benefits for communities in every corner of the country, and in many communities, those benefits are driven by visitation to Native American lands and cultural attractions,” said Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.  “The NATIVE Act expands opportunities to promote tourism to these lands. International travelers to Indian Country often have a greater impact on the local economy than other visitors—staying longer, visiting more states and regions and spending more on travel service—and the NATIVE Act will harness that effect for these communities.”

U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) are cosponsors of the NATIVE Act.

The NATIVE Act is supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders, including the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homeland Assembly, U.S. Travel Association, American Indian and Alaska Native Tourism Association, Southeast Tourism Society, Western States Tourism Policy Council, National Congress of American Indians, Alaska Federation of Natives, and the Native Enterprise Initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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