Exploris Expeditions & Cruises, New World Travel, ORCA, Swoop Antarctica, Arakur Experience and Shackleton’s Way Ship Agent & Suppliers have been granted Associate status with the responsible tourism organisation.
Existing Associate Grands Espaces has been granted Provisional Operator status and provisional operators, yacht companies Sur Expeditions and Alegria Marineros, have been granted full Operator status.
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 port agents/ship agencies, government tourism bureaus/tourist boards, expedition management service providers, conservation organizations and product/service providers.
Laura Smith, Chair of IAATO’s Membership Committee, said: “It’s exciting that more organizations have joined IAATO to support the protection of Antarctica. Visiting Antarctica is a privilege which comes with massive responsibility, so it is encouraging to see companies taking that to heart and joining the IAATO fold.”
All new Provisional Operators, as part of the application process, are required to carry an IAATO observer on board to review their operations in the field. For yachts, this is a dockside observation. These 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.
As a condition of membership, all Operators and Provisional Operators commit to obtaining the relevant permits/authorisations from their national competent authority to operate in Antarctica.
Since its inception in 1991, IAATO has taken a proactive role in managing pressure on the Antarctic environment, 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.
Gina Greer, IAATO Executive Director said: “Joining IAATO demonstrates a commitment to safe and environmentally responsible operations in Antarctica, so we’re delighted to welcome our new Associates into the organization and see three existing affiliates move forward with their membership.”
The newest members bring IAATO’s membership to 107, comprising 43 operators, 13 provisional operators, 45 associate members and six non-profit Associates members.