The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO). has opened its annual meeting with the launch of the first Antarctic Ambassadorship Day.
The meeting, held in Rhode Island, is the first in-person meeting held by the responsible tourism organisation since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Members have joined the event from around the world, with some for whom travel remains a challenge, taking part online.
Opening the meeting with the launch of Antarctic Ambassadorship Day, IAATO Communications and Engagement Manager Hayley Collings said: “Antarctic Ambassadorship is the cornerstone of IAATO. It’s in every guideline we create, rule we enhance, and guest lecture delivered. It is a concept borne out of love for the white continent, respect for the power is holds over the us and devotion to its ongoing protection.
“Today we celebrate ambassadorship, inspire others to act in its name and honour those who’ve long done so, and it’s been particularly special launching this important day the same week that IAATO members gather to discuss policies and processes that support responsible Antarctic tourism.”
Antarctic Ambassadorship Day was announced in August last year by IAATO as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations.
The membership organisation formalised its definition of an Antarctic Ambassador in May 2021 to be someone who:
- Loves and respects the region;
- Educates others by sharing their Antarctic experiences;
- Advocates for Antarctica when opportunities arise, and;
- Protects Antarctica by making positive changes at home.
The idea behind the new L.E.A.P acronym is to empower everyone to LEAP into action as ambassadors of the region, using their knowledge and passion in support of Antarctica.
As part of the celebrations, IAATO has launched an interactive ambassadorship map, showcasing polar enthusiasts around the world and what they have done in the name of Ambassadorship.
Each ambassador is represented by a penguin-shaped pin. When the pin is clicked, their photograph appears along with a profile detailing what they have done, or do, in the name of ambassadorship.
Lori Gross of IAATO’s Education and Outreach Working Group, said: “The map provides just a snapshot of what our ambassadors are doing around the world, having been moved to act by the location that unites us; the white continent.”
IAATO’s annual meeting provides a platform for the association’ s members to have candid discussions on self-management, sustainability and supporting science, among other important topics. It begins in earnest tomorrow.