IAATO is a non-profit industry association and its founding principles and mission, to advocate and promote the practice of safe and environmentally responsible private sector travel to the Antarctic, remain as true today as they did 25 years ago. The organisation, which was founded by seven operators in 1991, now has a global network of over 100 member companies including ship, yacht, air and land operators as well as tourism companies and bureaus, agents and specialist expedition management companies.
Protecting the unique Antarctic environment is a collaborative effort. IAATO works within the framework of the Antarctic Treaty System, recognising that the protection of the continent is largely dependent upon the Treaty’s sound environmental policies. Members are committed to working diligently to establish extensive operational procedures, activity guidelines and restrictions, with the goal of "leaving the Antarctic Environment as pristine and majestic for future generations as it is today”. During the 2015-2016 season, 38,378 people visited Antarctica with IAATO members. Their high standards and self-regulatory approach mean that, to date, no discernible impact on the environment has been observed, while at the same time enabling people to continue experiencing Antarctica first-hand whilst protecting this extraordinary wilderness (text: Pobjoy Mint Stamp Division).