PUNTA DEL ESTE, URUGUAY -- XPLORE EXPEDITIONS has been inducted as a full member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators [IAATO] at the annual meeting here 28 April - 1 May, 2008. IAATO was founded in 1991 to advocate, promote and practice safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to the Antarctic. There are currently 80-members of the organization, ranging from ship operators, land-based operators, ship agents, travel agents, one government office and travel companies that charter ships and airplanes from existing operators. Reports XPLORE founder and skipper Stephen Wilkins, from Uruguay: "The meeting has been interesting, and an eye opener to many issues within IAATO and the industry."
IAATO has established extensive procedures and guidelines to ensure appropriate, safe and environmentally sound private-sector travel to the Antarctic: regulations and restrictions on numbers of people ashore; staff-to-passenger ratios; site-specific and activity guidelines; wildlife watching; pre- and post-visit activity reporting; passenger, crew and staff briefings; previous Antarctic experience for tour staff; contingency and emergency medical evacuation plans; and more. The voluntary membership is resolved to set the highest possible tourism operating standards in its effort to protect Antarctica. For more information, please visit the IAATO website here.