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6 Indigenous Tourism Operators Uplifting Their Communities

Indigenous tourism is increasing steadily around the globe due to its many benefits, each of which highlights the deep ties of the local people to the area where they live, work, and play. In fact, many indigenous tourism operators naturally follow the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), even when they aren't specifically aware they exist.

Giving back by raising cultural awareness, protecting the environment, and providing support for programs that center on self-determination are three key hallmarks of indigenous-run tourism operators who are changing the lives of their communities.

6 Indigenous-run Tourism Operators Changing the Lives of their Communities

1. Monument Valley, Utah National Tribal Park Tours

The Navajo Parks and Recreation Department provides tours of panoramic Monument Valley, Utah with licensed Navajo Nation (NN) tour guides. Here you can join a tour group on a 17-mile loop through the famed ancient valley, where sun-streaked sandstone formations such as The Three Sisters and Yei Bi Chai haven't changed in thousands of years. Not only do the guides point out the hidden gems of the valley, but they know the nooks, crannies, and weather patterns of these lands like the back of their hand.

If you want a more personalized tour with an indigenous guide, bring your own 4-wheel drive vehicle, or enjoy one of the select few horseback riding adventures. Make sure to book a room on the third floor of the Valley's only hotel, The View, for the best showcase of the stars - with an environmentally-friendly design. Private cabins and camping spaces are also available.

Approximately 174,000 people make their home in the surrounding pristine lands

All proceeds from the park entry fee and backcountry permits benefit the Navajo Nation, which uses the funds for community projects and to run the Trading Post at The View, where a large selection of Navajo artistic and homewares are available. When you come, you're asked to follow Navajo Nation tribal laws, including no rock climbing (to avoid environmental damage) or drone footage. Staying within designated tour areas is another requirement so that the approximately 174,000 local people who make their home on the surrounding pristine lands can continue to enjoy the uninterrupted views of this 'Big Sky' country.

2. New Zealand Kohutapu Lodge and Tribal Tours

Nestled between the cities of Whakatane and Rotorua in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty, Kohutapu Lodge at Lake Aniwhenua on the banks of the Rangitaiki River is operated by the Toe Toe family of the Ngati Manawa (Eel People) tribe. Their deep ties to the land stretch back