The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) has welcomed ten new members into the responsible tourism fold. Members welcomed Provisional Operators Cookson Adventures and Princess Cruises into the Association, while granting provisional operator Albatros Expeditions full Operator status and welcoming Across Latin America – China, Caissa Tourism Group – China, Damen Shipyards, Lamei Tours China, Mystic Cruises, Pelorus and Pro Fuels as Associate Members, at its annual meeting, held in Cape Town, South Africa.
Every year, IAATO members set aside competitive interests to have open and candid discussions on safety, environmental protection and self-regulation. Decision-making is supported by recommendations developed by IAATO's many dedicated committees and working groups throughout the year. The meetings conclude annually with the voting in of new policies on best practice which support our mission of promoting and advocating safe and environmentally responsible travel to Antarctica and welcoming applicants who demonstrate IAATO’s ethos.
The newest affiliates bring IAATO’s membership to 116; comprising 48 operators, five provisional operators, and 63 associate members.
Mark van der Hulst, IAATO Executive Committee Chair, said: “IAATO is a trusted and valued Antarctic stakeholder thanks to its demonstrated commitment to safe, environmentally responsible travel. Joining our unique organization exhibits a company’s shared desire to safeguard Antarctica and learn from the pooled wisdom of the IAATO family, which comes from the hundreds of years of experience we have between us.
“As a self-regulating body we have stringent criteria for joining in order to ensure that every new member shares or mission and vision, so gaining membership reflects a great deal of hard work.
“We’re delighted to welcome ten new members into the organization and grant Albatros Expeditions full operator status.”
All new provisional operators are required to carry an IAATO observer during their first season of operations in the Antarctic to witness their operations in practice and offer feedback to ensure they meet IAATO’s robust operational guidelines. At this year’s annual meeting, members also approved a mandatory observation scheme for all IAATO operators.
IAATO has long taken a proactive role in managing pressure on the Antarctic environment so that visitors have no more than a minor or transitory impact. Part of this work involves the annual launch of the IAATO Ship Scheduler, a database which has used IAATO and Antarctic Treaty System requirements to set limits on time, number of passengers allowed, and number of daily visits to visitor sites around the Antarctic coast for almost two decades.
Janeen Haase, IAATO Interim Co-Executive Director - Governance & Membership, said: “IAATO’s proactive management strategies can act as a role model for safe, environmentally responsible travel, so we are always delighted to receive applications from new members who recognize that and want to come into the fold.
“Being an IAATO member shows the world you have a real passion for Antarctica, you recognize that visiting the continent is a privilege that comes with a responsibility to leave it pristine and that you have an ardent desire to preserve its incredible landscape and wildlife for future generations.”