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 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
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 2018 included Germany's role in Europe, the role of the media in a pluralist society, climate politics, the dual system of vocational training as well as the topic of how Germany is dealing with the history of the 20th century and Jewish Life in Germany.
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 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 of the Federal Republic of Germany 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.