New tour guides join UN Vienna team

Listening to a fairy tale from the booth of a UN interpreter, making fruit salad with cucumber, discharging a fire extinguisher – perhaps not what nine new Visitors Service tour guides were expecting during their induction programme at the UN in Vienna.

VIENNA, 8 February 2024 – UNIS Vienna’s Visitors Service runs guided tours for some 50,000 visitors from all over the world and all walks of life. The team serving them is just as diverse, with the Service offering tours of the UN in Vienna in more than a dozen languages. Nine new tour guides have just joined.

The ‘newbies’ induction programme, held 15-31 January 2024 in cooperation with the UN Vienna Staff Development Unit, Security and Safety Service, Buildings Management Service, Conference Management Services and the communication offices of Vienna-based organizations, had to span all areas and topics that can come up on a visit to the Vienna International Centre (VIC).

Over the course of two weeks of briefings, workshops and walk-throughs, the new guides met quite a few of the VIC’s 5,000 staff working for the UN Office at Vienna (UNOV), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).


The new guides completed a presentation skills workshop, underwent hands-on emergency preparedness training, and were asked to introduce themselves to their teammates through their favourite fruit – a team-building exercise that resulted in a truly delicious fruit salad which even included cucumbers. But above all the group learned all about the Vienna-based UN family’s work for peace, sustainable development and human rights.

Their training took the group to every corner of the VIC, from the Director General’s office to the boiler room. They visited on-site laboratories and emergency control centres at the heart of the substantive work of CTBTO, IAEA and UNODC. They toured the precious VIC art collection. They got to try out simultaneous interpreting in a real conference room, transforming a German reading of Snow White into English. And they met the colleague responsible for ironing the 193 Member State flags that fly on the Memorial Plaza.

Last year 94 per cent of visitors to the UN in Vienna gave their guided tour a top rating. Small wonder, with so much to tell.