The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators welcomed five provisional operators and eight associates. Bunker One A/S, Freestyle Adventure Travel, South America Shipping, UnWild Planet Travel and Polar Tourism Guides Association were approved by IAATO members during an inter-session vote at the end of 2022 while Avila Reizen, Falkland Islands Development Corp. and Summit Aviation were voted in at the organization's recent annual meeting in Hamburg.
The meeting also saw Azamara, Exploris, Polar Pioneer Management, Tecla and Ultima granted provisional operator status.
Existing provisional operators Atlas Ocean Voyages, Intrepid Expeditions, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Princess Cruises and Swan Hellenic were granted operator status.
'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,' said Tudor Morgan, chair of IAATO’s executive committee.
'We’re also delighted to see existing provisional operators move forward with their membership to become full operators.'
Operators (and provisional operators) operate directly in Antarctica and organize their own travel programs, while associates are tour operators, travel agents or other companies that book their customers into operator member’s Antarctic programs. Associates may also be companies or individuals interested in supporting Antarctic tourism and IAATO objectives. These include, among others, 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 operational guidelines are upheld in practice.
'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,' IAATO Executive Director Gina Greer said.
“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.