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The Visitors Programme

The Federal Republic of Germany’s Visitors Programme enables foreign opinion leaders to see Germany with their own eyes and thus gain an authentic, up-to-date and nuanced insight into the country. Participants usually spend a week in Germany at the invitation of the Federal Foreign Office.

This short time is packed with appointments arranged especially for the specific group. Every year some 1000 high-ranking individuals and young future leaders from abroad have the opportunity to take part in one of around 150 fact-finding tours. The visitors are drawn from the fields of journalism, culture, politics, business, society and academia and, in their respective roles, influence Germany’s image in their countries.

The Visitors Programme is based on the conviction that prejudices can only be overcome by direct, face-to-face contact with others. The key to the Programme’s success lies in the combination of factual informative events and personal experience that it offers the visitors.
The participants are selected by the missions abroad in coordination with the Federal Foreign Office headquarters in Berlin. The type and focus of the trips are chosen to match the visitors’ profiles.

Themed, individual and group trips

Themed trip dual system of vocational training

Themed trip dual system of vocational training
© Auswärtiges Amt

The themed trips are a particularly successful invention. They bring together participants from various countries and regions of the world who are invited to Germany to learn about a specific topic. The topics covered in 2016 included Germany’s role in Europe, migration and integration in Germany, the role of the media in a pluralist society,  the political process involved in the transformation of Germany’s energy system, climate protection, the dual system of vocational training and the start of events marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The Visitors Programme also organises individual trips for particularly high-ranking multipliers, as well as group trips for sets of experts from a single country or region. In addition, the Visitors Programme helps arrange work placements for foreign and young journalists with German news agencies.

The Federal Foreign Office charges external partner organisations with drawing up the programmes and looking after the participants during their visit to Germany. These partner organisations are chosen in line with the topic of the given programme, and include the Goethe‑Institut, Initiative Musik and the European Academy Berlin.

The Programme’s history

The first trips to Germany paid for by the Government were for journalists in 1958. Since then, more than 50,000 opinion leaders have come to Germany under the Visitors Programme. The Federal Foreign Office has been responsible for the Visitors Programme since 2003, when it took over from the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government.

Until the 1980s, the majority of visitors came from European countries. Following Germany’s reunification, the focus of the Visitors Programme shifted to also include multipliers from other regions of the world.

Since 2001, the trips have been planned with a growing emphasis on dialogue on topics of common interest and global issues. However, the goal is still to make the visitors more familiar with Germany – by experiencing it first hand and obtaining relevant information.

Contact: 608-7@diplo.de


Last updated 25.11.2016

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