Travis Owens named president of AIANTA board of directors

TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Travis Owens has been named president of the board of directors for the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association. The national organization works to define, introduce, grow and sustain tourism efforts that honor Indigenous traditions and values. 

Owens has served in various roles for AIANTA since 2015 before his new appointment to president.

“Travis Owens has been a steadfast advocate for the preservation and promotion of Cherokee history and culture for nearly two decades, and it comes as no surprise that his talents and voice were sought for this role,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “We are thankful for the vital work of AIANTA and incredibly proud to see a Cherokee Nation citizen selected to help strengthen and grow Native tourism nationally.”

Owens began working for Cherokee Nation in 2006 and currently serves as vice president of cultural tourism at Cherokee Nation Businesses, managing the tribe’s robust tourism portfolio. Spanning 14 counties in northeast Oklahoma, those efforts include six museums, an interpretive site, a welcome center, a research center, an art gallery, a gift shop and more. He also plays an integral part in the Nation’s approach to the restoration and preservation of historic sites, interpretive planning, cultural art, programs and events.

Owens has served various community-focused organizations, including Preservation Oklahoma, Fab Lab Tulsa and the Tulsa Children’s Museum. He was recently appointed to the OSU Hospitality and Tourism Management Advisory Board.

“Being called to serve in any organization is an honor, but it is also a responsibility not to be taken lightly,” said Owens. “Indigenous tourism is powered by passion, and I’m thankful to have worked alongside some of the most passionate individuals out there who have led the way in cultural tourism. I’ve seen firsthand how impactful AIANTA is in bringing people together, and I look forward to celebrating our shared successes in the coming year.”

Leveraging the power of the $15.7B Native tourism industry, AIANTA serves as a unified voice to further develop and elevate authentic Native destinations. As president of the board of directors, Owens will serve alongside 15 regional representatives who serve three-year terms and work directly with AIANTA CEO Sherry L. Rupert.

“We are incredibly thankful for the knowledge and expertise that Travis will bring to this role,” said Rupert. “He has served AIANTA faithfully for many years and has worked diligently to promote cultural heritage tourism across our Native Nations and communities for even longer. We know he will enhance our efforts and provide value to the work our team is doing each and every day.”


For more than 25 years, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) has served as the only national organization dedicated to advancing cultural heritage tourism in Native Nations and communities across the United States. Established by tribes for tribes to address inequities in the tourism system, AIANTA is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit governed by an all-Native board of directors and serves as a united voice for the $15.7 billion Native hospitality sector. AIANTA’s successful legislative work led to the industry-changing Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act (NATIVE Act) funding in 2018, as Indian Country Tourism was recognized through federal appropriations via NATIVE Act implementation. AIANTA’s mission is to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian (AIANNH) tourism that honors traditions and values while helping AIANNH businesses become market/export ready for domestic and international markets. Tribes who are looking to start or expand their cultural tourism footprint can find resources at, and visitors interested in learning more about Native culture can visit