International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators
The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) is an organization of virtually all the commercial tour operators to the Antarctic. Although these operators are competitive, they all pull together to protect and preserve Antarctica as a unique conservation area.
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The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) was founded in 1991 by seven companies. Its goal is to promote safe and environmentally responsible travel in Antarctica. More than 90 percent of all the commercial tour operators worldwide are members of IAATO.
The IAATO now has more than 100 members from different countries. They protect the unique environment of Antarctica by formulating high-standard environmental and safety guidelines and promising to monitor each other for compliance. The IAATO guidelines govern, among others, maximum visitor numbers, the safety distances from nesting birds to be observed, and protection of the native fauna and flora. Some of its rules go beyond the scope of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. The IAATO's self-regulation has been so successful in past years as to result in a form of tourism practiced by its members that has left a relatively light footprint on the sensitive ecosystem.
After every season the IAATO publishes detailed statistics on visitor numbers, landings and other activities. It also sends delegations to the yearly Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCM) which represent the tourism sector but have no voting rights in the decisions taken.
See the IAATO English-language website for more information.
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