UNITED NATIONS CELEBRATES FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF GUIDED TOURS OFFICIAL COMMEMORATION AT HEADQUARTERS 6 NOVEMBER

31 October 2002
NOTE5760

UNITED NATIONS CELEBRATES FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF GUIDED TOURS OFFICIAL COMMEMORATION AT HEADQUARTERS 6 NOVEMBER

31/10/2002
Press Release
NOTE5760


                                                            Note No. 5760

                                                            31 October 2002


Note to Correspondents


UNITED NATIONS CELEBRATES FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF GUIDED TOURS


OFFICIAL COMMEMORATION AT HEADQUARTERS 6 NOVEMBER


The United Nations will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the guided tour operation at United Nations Headquarters with a number of events in November, including a press conference on 4 November, special celebrations on 6 November and 50 per cent off guided tour admission, in addition to other discounts at the United Nations Bookshop and Gift Centre on Sundays throughout November.


At the official commemoration on 6 November, Secretary-General Kofi Annan will open a photographic exhibit highlighting five decades of the visitors’ experience at the United Nations at 5:30 p.m. in the Visitors’ Lobby.  Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, William Luers, President of the United Nations Association of the United States and Marjorie Tiven, Commissioner for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol will also speak.  In addition, a guide from 1952 and another from

2002 will offer highlights of their experience as United Nations tour guides.  Accredited media representatives are welcome to attend.  There will be a tour for media representatives immediately following the exhibit opening.


Approximately 400 former and present tour guides will join the celebrations, coming from Amsterdam, Brussels, Caracas, Geneva, London, Madrid, Moscow, Munich, Oslo, Rome, Santo Domingo, Tel Aviv, Warsaw, Vienna, as well as from all over the United States.  A private reunion dinner will take place at 7 p.m. in the Delegates’ Dining Room that will bring together these current and former guides as they plan their post-anniversary outreach.


There will be a press conference at 12:30 p.m. on 4 November in Room S-226, with a number of current and former guides, chaired by Mr. Tharoor.  At 6 p.m. on 12 November, a group of current guides will open an exhibition of their art in the Secretariat Lobby.


Since the first guided tour took place in November 1952, over 37 million visitors have been guided through United Nations Headquarters by 2,000 highly trained, multilingual guides from more than 100 countries.  “The tour guides -- our ambassadors to the public -- are usually the visitors’ most direct contact with the United Nations and, therefore, play an important role in shaping people’s perceptions of the work of the Organization,” says Shashi Tharoor.  “I hope that the anniversary and the reunion will galvanize this latent constituency of former guides to continue to promote the United Nations in their respective fields.”


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                                                            31 October 2002


Many former guides have gone on to achieve prominence in government, academia, media and the arts, including former United States Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole, Princess Wiwan Wariwan of Thailand, best-selling Israeli author Yael Hedaya, and cookbook author and actress Madhur Jaffrey of India.


Since 10 young women began giving tours on 3 November 1952, the United Nations has become a major tourist destination in New York City.  The American Association for the United Nations -- now the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) -- ran the tour operation until 1955, when it was incorporated into the United Nations Office of Public Information, now the Department of Public Information (DPI).  Today, 52 young people from 32 countries conduct the tours, which are offered in more than 20 languages.


Several partners have joined DPI in its efforts to highlight the anniversary and to raise the profile of the guided tour operation.  They include the UNA-USA, the International Photographic Council (IPC), a number of permanent missions to the United Nations, the United Nations Federal Credit Union and Restaurant Associates.


The IPC, a non-governmental organization associated with DPI, has mobilized its members in the photo industry to support the photographic exhibit, which will be on display in the Visitors’ Lobby until 6 January 2003.  Kodak designed and produced the exhibit, Cygnus Business Media provided the accompanying brochure and Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Olympus are sponsoring the opening reception.


For more information on the anniversary and to receive a press kit, to request photos or to arrange to interview a current or former United Nations guide, please contact Helene Hoedl, Guided Tours Unit, tel:  212-963-3242, fax: 212-963-0071, e-mail:  hoedl@un.org or visit www.un.org/tours.  For a copy of the nine-minute video on the history of the United Nations guided tours, please contact Eileen Sten at tel:  212-963-6939, e-mail:  sten@un.org.


Media accreditation:  Interested journalists who are not already accredited to the United Nations, please contact the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, tel:  212-963-6934, fax:  212-963-4642.


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For information media. Not an official record.