SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — In a state with the second-most federally acknowledged Indigenous tribes within the nation, California officers and tribal leaders introduced an initiative Wednesday to drive up tourism in native communities.

The initiative, Go to Native California, and its accompanying web site are funded by a $1 million grant from the American Rescue Plan Act, which targets public well being and financial impacts of the pandemic and was signed into regulation by President Joe Biden final 12 months. Tribes introduced it in partnership with Go to California, the state’s essential tourism advertising company.

It’s one of many newest efforts to revitalize tourism nationwide after the early stage of the pandemic halted journey — and the spending that comes with it. California misplaced a projected $72.8 billion in tourism spending in 2020, in keeping with analysis by Tourism Economics, an information and consulting agency. The aim is to tell vacationers in regards to the music, artwork, nature, and historical past which have formed tribal communities for generations. The web site will promote places across the state, together with by way of podcasts, and supply itineraries for vacationers.

“This undertaking, this web site, it provides my tribe the chance, the flexibility to share our tradition,” stated Reid D. Milanovich, chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, at a press convention on the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza in Palm Springs.

The plaza, which can open subsequent 12 months, hosts the 48,000-square-foot Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, a path and a spa on the sacred Agua Caliente mineral scorching spring. Different tribal websites promoted by the marketing campaign embody the Barona Cultural Middle and Museum in Lakeside, California, and a cultural heart within the Santa Monica Mountains close to Los Angeles.

Milanovich, whose ancestral lands see 200,000 annual guests, stated he hopes the initiative results in related ones in different states.

“I’m optimistic and hope that different states throughout the nation see what we’re doing right here in California,” Milanovich stated. “The state and tribes partnering on tourism is a win-win.”

Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Go to California, estimates that the group has been involved with greater than a dozen of California’s 109 tribes forward of the initiative’s rollout, set for March 2023.

Leaders concerned within the initiative hope it provides an opportunity for guests to develop into extra knowledgeable in regards to the historical past of tribal lands.

“Cultural tourism to us is so necessary for a lot of, many purpose,” stated Sherry Rupert, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Affiliation President and CEO.


Sophie Austin is a corps member for the Related Press/Report for America Statehouse Information Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit nationwide service program that locations journalists in native newsrooms to report on undercovered points. Observe Sophie Austin on Twitter.

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