Founded by seven private tour operators in 1991, the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) has grown to include over 100 member companies from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, United Kindgom, and United States. IAATO is dedicated to facilitating appropriate, safe and environmentally sound private-sector travel to the Antarctic.
- To represent Antarctic tour operators and others organizing and conducting travel to the Antarctic to the Antarctic Treaty Parties, the international conservation community and the public at large.
- To advocate and promote the practice of safe and environmentally responsible travel to the Antarctic.
- To circulate and promote and follow the Guidance for Visitors to the Antarctic and Guidance for Those Organizing and Conducting Tourism and Non-governmental Activities in the Antarctic, as adopted by the Antarctic Treaty System (Recommendation XVIII-1).
- To advocate and promote operation by its Members within the parameters of the Antarctic Treaty System, including the Antarctic Treaty and the Protocol on the Environment and Annexes, along with MARPOL, SOLAS and similar international and national laws and agreements.
- Members are to subscribe to the principle that their planned activities will have no more than a minor or transitory impact on the Antarctic environment.
- To foster continued cooperation among its members and to monitor IAATO programs, including the pattern and frequency of visits to specific sites within the Antarctic and to assist in coordinating itineraries so that no more than 100 visitors from vessels are ashore at any one time in any one place.
- To provide a forum for the international, private-sector travel industry to share expertise and opinions about safe and environmentally responsible travel to Antarctica.
- To enhance public awareness and concern for the conservation of the Antarctic environment and its associated ecosystems and to better inform the media, governments and environmental organizations about private-sector travel to these regions.
- To create a corps of ambassadors for the continued protection of Antarctica by offering the opportunity to experience the continent first hand.
- To support science in Antarctica through cooperation with national Antarctic programs, including logistical support and research.
- To foster cooperation between private-sector travel and the international scientific community in the Antarctic.
- To facilitate employment by the Membership of the best qualified staff and field personnel are employed by IAATO members through continued training and education and to encourage and develop international acceptance of evaluation, certification and accreditation programs for Antarctic personnel.