The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators welcomed to its membership two operators, five provisional operators and five new associates.

Ice Trek and Scenic Expeditions

Ice Trek and Scenic Expeditions were voted in as IAATO operators. Intrepid Travel, The World Residences at Sea, Students on Ice, Sur Expeditions and Viking Expeditions were granted provisional operator status. And Arbue Services, Inmarsat, RSR Nemo Ship Management, Newayer Travel and V.Ships Leisure gained associate member status.

113 members

This brings IAATO’s total membership to 113, including 46 operators, eight provisional operators and 59 associate members.

The new operators, provisional operators and associates were voted in during the organization’s first online annual meeting.

‘Joining IAATO demonstrates a company’s desire to safeguard Antarctica and learn from the collective experience and wisdom of the IAATO family,’ said Mark Van der Hulst, chair of IAATO’s Executive Committee. He added the organization has stringent criteria for joining to ensure every new member shares the same mission and vision.

Membership reflects a ‘tremendous amount of hard work, dedication and commitment,’ Van der Hulst said.

As a condition of membership, all new provisional operators will be required to carry an IAATO observer on board to witness their operations in the field. Observations provide a forum for feedback and offer a further opportunity for the membership to make sure IAATO’s operational guidelines are upheld in practice.

COVID-19 Steering Group

This year’s meeting saw the introduction of a COVID-19 Steering Group; formed to drive the creation of IAATO guidance on COVID-19 procedures for the 2020/21 season.

The impact of the pandemic on the coming season remains unclear. However, as a community, IAATO members are working together through a number of possible scenarios while seeking advice from experts unravelling the long-term implications of, and solutions to, COVID-19.