President Obama Signs Schatz’s Native Tourism Bill Into Law

New Law Will Help Empower Native Communities in Hawai‘i and Across the Country to Tell Their Own Stories

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama signed the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act into law.  The bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and John Thune (R-S.D.) will enhance and integrate native tourism, empower native communities, and expand unique cultural tourism opportunities in the United States.

“I’m incredibly proud to have worked with our native communities on this legislation, and I’m pleased the president has signed it into law,” said Senator Schatz.  “This new law gives our native communities a real opportunity to grow their local economy and share their history and culture with the rest of the world.”

The NATIVE Act will require federal agencies with tourism assets and responsibilities to include tribes and native organizations in national tourism efforts and strategic planning. It will also provide Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, and American Indian communities with access to resources and technical assistance needed to build sustainable recreational and cultural travel and tourism infrastructure and capacity; spur economic development, and create good jobs. 

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.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), 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. 

U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) led companion legislation in the House of Representatives.