IAATO Enhances Responsible Tourism Measures for 2024-25 Antarctica Season

Hurtigruten Ship

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) has announced a series of enhanced responsible tourism measures and short-term priorities as its members prepare for the 2024-25 season in Antarctica.

According to a press release, these actions were agreed upon during the association’s annual meeting in Annapolis, United States, in late April.

They include 17 new IAATO Visitor Site Guidelines and seven new short-term actions in support of IAATO’s five-year strategic plan, “Embracing our Role as Antarctic Stewards”.

One of the new short-term actions is the establishment of a cruise-only working group to identify new operational procedures specific to cruise operators that can support IAATO’s mission, the organization said.

The working group will also focus on improving tools to enhance passengers’ experiences in Antarctica.

“It’s an immense privilege to travel to Antarctica and one that comes with a responsibility to do so with no more than a minor or transitory impact. In recognition of this, each year our members come together to discuss and enhance our protocols to strengthen our already robust standards,” said Lisa Kelley, IAATO ‘s Deputy Executive Director and Director of Operations and Government Affairs.

“These new measures are part of IAATO’s continued mission to advocate and promote the practice of safe and environmentally responsible private sector travel to Antarctica,” she added.

The new guidelines cover both marine and terrestrial sites and provide practical guidance for operators and guides on how to conduct visits to these sites, taking into consideration environmental values and sensitivities, IAATO said.

Last year, the organization unveiled a five-year strategic plan with four main pillars: operators as stewards, purposeful support of research, deliberate resource management plan and persistent proactive measures focused on sustainability.

During this year’s IAATO annual meeting, members approved short-term actions for 2024-25, which include the development of a new digital application to support guides in the field, the integration of an updated Antarctic Ambassador Program and the evolution of IAATO’s Observer Program.

“IAATO members have long taken a collaborative approach to developing best practice and evolving guidelines in support of our safe and environmentally responsible mission,” said Gina Greer, IAATO Executive Director.

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