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: Hualapai Tourism

President Barack Obama signs bill to promote Native tourism into law

President Barack Obama signed a bill promote Native tourism into law on Friday.

S.1579, the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act (NATIVE Act), does something rather simple but supporters say it will help draw more people, and their dollars, to Native communities. It requires federal agencies to update their existing management plans and tourism strategies to include tribes, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians.

"This bill will empower Native communities to tell their own stories and build their own economic opportunities," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the sponsor of the NATIVE Act, said in a press release after the measure cleared its final hurdle on Capitol Hill earlier this month.

"For too long, tourism has focused on so-called major destinations and while that's important, we have the opportunity to support cultural revitalization and economic renewal through the passage of this bill," Schatz said. "Visitors are increasingly seeking out a more authentic and historically rich travel experience, and there is nothing more authentic and unique than the cultural tourism experience our native communities provide.

The Senate passed the bill on July 13. It cleared the House on September 12.

The bill does not require federal agencies with tourism programs to spend additional funds.

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