Camille Ferguson, executive director of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), and Deb Hickok, president and CEO of Explore Fairbanks, were recently elected to three-year terms on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Travel Association. Notably, they are the first Alaskans to serve on the board.
Ferguson is Tlingit from the Kiksadi Clan and a citizen of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. During her 31-year career in the tourism industry, she has served as the Economic Development Director for Sitka Tribe of Alaska and on the board of the Sitka Convention & Visitors Bureau. Ferguson began the annual Alaska Heritage and Cultural Tourism Conference and served as general manager for Shee Atika Corporation's Totem Square Inn, a native-owned hotel.
Under Ferguson's leadership, AIANTA received national recognition when presented with the President's "E" Award for Exports by the President of the United States for increasing exports. She served as interim executive director of AIANTA from July to December 2011 and became director in 2013.
"My goal is to assist in advocacy for travel and trade that will include Indian Country opportunities and especially advocate for rural areas where travel and trade have big challenges, yet have so much to offer," said Ferguson.
Hickok has been professional in the field of destination marketing and management for nearly 37 years. She worked in Pennsylvania tourism until moving to Alaska in 1999 to become CEO of Explore Fairbanks. Throughout her career, Hickok has served in various leadership roles in both states. She previously served on the U.S. Travel Destinations Council.
Under Hickok's guidance, Explore Fairbanks has received numerous awards, including the Governor of Alaska's Exporter of the Year Award and the Destiny Award from the U.S. Travel Destinations Council. Hickok currently serves on the board of directors for the Alaska Travel Industry Association, which she chaired in 2011, and for the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce.
"U.S. Travel's national and international priorities already closely align with those of Alaska's travel industry," said Hickok. "That said, being from the state that makes the U.S. an arctic nation, I hope I can share that perspective in discussions such as public lands' infrastructure needs, support for the development of cultural tourism capacity, global connectivity and long-haul travel."
Both Ferguson and Hickok are recipients of the Denali Award from the Alaska Travel Industry Association, which "is presented to a living individual for his or her outstanding leadership, professional excellence, and personal contribution to the Alaska travel industry."
Visit U.S. Travel Association to learn more.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for Groups Today.