Indian Country tourism bill clears another hurdle on Capitol Hill

The Hualapai Tribe of Arizona owns and operates the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a popular tourist attraction that draws about 370,000 people per year, according to USA Today. Photo from Facebook

A bill that would give a boost to tourism efforts in Indian Country continues to move forward on Capitol Hill.

By unanimous consent, the House Committee on Natural Resources approved S.1579, the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act (NATIVE Act), on Wednesday. The bill does something rather simple but lawmakers say it will help draw more people, and their dollars, to Native communities.

"Expanding local tourism to include tribes is a great way for Americans to learn about Native culture, history, and traditions," Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and one of the co-sponsors of the bill, said in a press release.

The Senate approved the NATIVE Act on April 25. It only needs to clear the House before it can be sent to President Barack Obama for his possible signature.

The bill merely requires the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Interior to update their management plans and tourism strategies to include tribes, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. Supporters say the two agencies won't have to spend additional funds to carry out that task.

Tourism in the U.S. is a $221 billion industry, according to the Department of Commerce. Based on surveys conducted by the agency, a record 1.65 million travelers from overseas visited Indian Country in 2014. That represents about 5 percent of all overseas visitors to the U.S.

"Indian communities saw the most travelers from China, the United Kingdom, and France," a hearing memo for H.R.3477, a companion version of the NATIVE Act, reads. The memo was based on data from the National Travel and Tourism Office.

House Committee on Natural Resources Notices:
Full Committee Markup [4pm session] (July 12, 2016)
Full Committee Markup [10am session] (July 13, 2016)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
House committee considers three Indian Country bills at markup (07/11)
Senate passes measure to include Indian Country in tourism plans (04/27)
Eastern Cherokees debate $92M family-friendly 'adventure park' (03/25)
Robert Jumper: Plenty to enjoy in the Eastern Cherokee outdoors (03/14)
Rep. Don Young vows quick action on tribal tourism and Eastern Cherokee bills (02/25)
Witness list for House hearing on tribal tourism and Eastern Cherokee bills (02/23)
House panel to take up tribal tourism and Eastern Cherokee bills (02/18)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approves two bills at meeting (10/07)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules business meeting (10/05)