International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators

Leading the way in expedition safety and environmental conservation

In the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, world governments designated Antarctica as a “natural reserve dedicated to peace and science.” Seven years later, the first ice­-strengthened ship carrying commercial travelers sailed to Antarctica: Lars­ Eric Lindblad's Lindblad Explorer. This year, 2016, marks fifty years that Lindblad Expeditions has been at the forefront of ecotourism in Antarctica and around the world.

Given Lindblad Expeditions’ long history of success in leading safe expeditions to Antarctica, in 1991 several of our naturalists and field staff helped to create the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), an organization that advocates, promotes, and practices safe and environmentally responsible private-­sector travel to Antarctica. The founding of the IAATO coincided with the passage of the Antarctic Environmental Protocol, an international treaty that created the framework for the continued conservation of Antarctica’s pristine environment.

Today, the IAATO is made up of over 100 member companies from across the globe that work together to pool resources and lobby their national governments to create environmental and safety regulations and guidelines that keep within the spirit of the Antarctic Environmental Protocol and are compatible with current best practices in the field.

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