What is IAATO?

Tourism in Antarctica is skyrocketing, with 42% growth in passenger numbers forecast for next season. With 80% of visitors stepping foot on the top 20 sites, there's a huge strain on a tiny portion of this precious continent. Facing these numerous environmental challenges head-on is the visionary International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, IAATO.

  • IAATO is a voluntary organisation, resolved to set industry standards that will protect Antarctica
  • Although made up of competitor tour operators, it is remarkably effective and dedicated to its mission of encouraging responsible travel
  • Meeting once a year, IAATO passes policies, procedures and guidelines through a democratic vote, often going over and above the minimum requirement

Going Ashore in Antarctica - IAATO guidelines

IAATO in practice


IAATO's guidelines cover all parts of Antarctic tourism, including wildlife-watching, emergency evacuation, staff-to-passenger ratios and restrictions on the number of people ashore. Often, the guidelines go above and beyond the minimum requirement, not just to reduce impact but to be an active force for good.

Recent updates include:

  1. A revised code of conduct to reduce boats striking whales
  2. Clean Seas policy unilaterally accepted
  3. A blanket ban on drone usage
Chinstrap penguins, Antarctica

Chinstrap penguins

Swoop Says background image

Swoop says

There is no sovereign government in Antarctica, instead over 40 governments work together under the Antarctic Treaty. IAATO represents the tourism industry and works with the treaty signatories as an invited expert.

Swoop and IAATO

We are proud to be an associate of IAATO and we adhere to their guidelines throughout our work. For Swoop, that means everything from ensuring our photos reflect the wildlife-watching guidance, to guaranteeing every single one of our customers receives IAATO's information booklet before they depart.

We only work with other tour operators who are part of IAATO and abide by regulations that will protect the continent we love. To keep up to date, every year we join hundreds of others at an annual meeting to understand the latest best practices, and changing guidelines, and to contribute to the conversation about sustainable tourism in Antarctica.


Our travellers and IAATO

Going to Antarctica is a huge privilege. This continent faces unprecedented challenges and deserves to be approached conscientiously and respectfully, in full knowledge of the responsibility that rests on every traveller's shoulders.

You can help be a part of IAATO's vision for Antarctica by taking note of the guidelines on conduct while you're there. If you're travelling with us, you can find the guidelines in your confirmation and final documents. On your return, you can continue the important work by being an ambassador for IAATO, bringing to light the importance of conservation and research work in Antarctica. Your support will be increasingly important as we creep closer to the Antarctic Treaty's expiry date of 2048.

Tourists looking at a gentoo penguin highway on Cuverville Island
Swoop Says background image

Alex says

IAATO is an extraordinary force for good and one that Swoop is incredibly proud to be associated with. Watching competitors rub shoulders every year, collaborating for what's best for Antarctica, has led to some groundbreaking achievements for the white continent.

Alex Mudd Head of Swoop Antarctica

Where to go on a cruise to Antarctica

Our best trips to Antarctica

Special Offers:Swoop has access to the widest range of offers and can help you find the right trip, cabin, & price.

Original Fly & Cruise Luxury Adventure

Fly over the Drake Passage in just 2 hours, both to and from Antarctica. ​Ideal for those ​wanting a high comfort level, but ​who have limited time or ​are ​anxious sailors. ​An outstanding program, successfully operated for over 15 seasons.​…

  • 8 Days
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Onto the Antarctic Ice

With three medium-sized expedition ships to pick from and regular departure dates throughout the season, this well-priced voyage is a popular option. Across striking landscapes and icy seas, your company includes penguins, seals, whales and skuas. For the adventurous, optional…

  • 10-13 Days
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Antarctic Basecamp Adventure

The ultimate Antarctic adventure, this trip is specifically for the active traveller. Spend 7 days kayaking, hiking, camping, mountaineering and snowshoeing, all included in the price. A medium-sized expedition ship acts as your floating ‘basecamp’. An excellent deal backed up…

  • 13 Days
  • $10,550
South Georgia, Antarctica and Falklands Explorer

Looking for an Antarctic adventure without compromising on comfort and service? This stylish 139-passenger ship, with its cavernous suites, fine dining and compelling itinerary, offers a polished Southern Ocean adventure at a fair…

  • 21 Days
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We help over 3,000 people a year organise incredible Antarctic and Patagonian experiences. Our exclusive focus on this corner of the world means that whatever kind …

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​For sheer density of wildlife, majestic scenery and riveting history, South Georgia is a truly world-beating destination. Known as the Serengeti of the Southern Ocean, it’s one of the least visited places on earth – and offers great rewards for those who make their way to its shores.


Ready to plan your Antarctic adventure?



We'll spend some time listening to your aspirations, then discuss the kind of experience that might suit you.



Next we'll discuss the options, shortlist the best trips for you and present you our impartial recommendations.



We'll place a 24 hour hold on your preferred option - without obligation - whilst we talk through the details.

With over 100 years of Antarctic experience between us, we can help guide you to exactly the right trip for you.