Five provisional operators and eight Associates have been welcomed into the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) at the responsible tourism organisation’s annual meeting.
Bunker One A/S, Freestyle Adventure Travel, South America Shipping, UnWild Planet Travel and Polar Tourism Guides Association (PTGA) were approved as Associates by members during an intersessional vote at the end of 2022 while Avila Reizen, Falkland Islands Development Corporation and Summit Aviation were voted-in last week (April 25 to 27).
The meeting, this year held in Hamburg, Germany, also saw Azamara, Exploris, Polar Pioneer Management, Tecla, and Ultima granted Provisional Operator status.
Existing Provisional Operators Atlas Ocean Voyages, Intrepid Expeditions, Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings, Princess Cruises and Swan Hellenic were granted Operator status.
Tudor Morgan, Chair of IAATO’s Executive Committee, said: “We’re pleased to welcome our new associates who by joining IAATO have demonstrated their commitment to advocating and promoting the practice of safe and environmentally responsible operations in Antarctica.
“We’re also delighted to see existing provisional operators move forward with their membership to become full operators.”
There are two categories of IAATO membership: Operators and Associates. Operators (and Provisional Operators) are companies that operate directly in Antarctica and organize their own travel programmes, while Associates are tour operators, travel agents or other companies that book their customers into Operator member’s Antarctic programmes. Associates may also be companies or individuals interested in supporting Antarctic tourism and IAATO objectives. These include, but are not limited to, port agents/ship agencies, government tourism bureaus/tourist boards, expedition management service providers, conservation organizations and product/service providers.
As a condition of membership, all new Provisional Operators are required to carry an IAATO observer on board to witness their operations in the field. Observations not only provide a forum for feedback but offer a further opportunity for the membership to make sure that IAATO’s robust operational guidelines are upheld in practice.
Gina Greer, IAATO Executive Director said: “Earning a place within the IAATO membership reflects dedication to our mission, the tenets of the Antarctic Treaty and a great deal of hard work.
“We’re delighted to welcome our eight new members into our unique association and grant full operator status to five provisional operators.”
Since its inception in 1991, IAATO has taken a proactive role in managing tourism activity in Antarctica, working within the framework of the Antarctic Treaty System to help visitors have an enriching experience, whilst having no more than a minor or transitory impact on the region. The annual launch of the IAATO Ship Scheduler – a tool which restricts the time, number of passengers and daily visits allowed to the most popular sites on the Antarctic Peninsula – is a key part of responsible visitor management.
The newest affiliates bring IAATO’s membership to 46 operators, 11 provisional operators, 45 associate members and seven non-profit Associates members.