Since 1961, the El Paso Council for International Visitors (EPCIV) continues to receive foreign dignitaries through cooperation with the U.S. Department of Stateto tour the United States. Our program work with U.S. embassies around the world in order to acquaint emerging leaders of other nations with the United States so that they will better understand our country.
These visitors spend three to four weeks in the United States at our government's expense. They visit four to six communities where they are greeted and hosted by local councils. EPCIV is one of the many councils that belongs to the U.S. Global Ties. More than one hundred heads of state and six hundred cabinet ministers from around the world have participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program, to include Margaret Thatcher and Anwar Sadat.
Most international visitors are mid-level managers who are rising stars in their chosen professions, which include government, education, journalism, and business. Their ages typically range from 35-55, and they are well-educated and often widely traveled. They visit business, government, and private sector agencies that correlate to their careers in their home country. Most of these visitors speak English, although some require an interpreter. Visitors are accompanied by an escort from the U.S. Department of State; this escort provides interpretation for non-English speakers.
Most international visitors come to El Paso for two to four days and stay in local hotels. During
their visit, they meet with their professional counterparts, through three to four scheduled appointments each day. An evening is spent dining in the home of a local host in order to learn what El Paso family life is like. One full morning or afternoon typically includes free time so that each visitor can rest or pursue recreational interests. Common visitor activities include sightseeing, meeting the local press, shopping, speaking to classes, and attending civic club functions.
Each visitor and escort receives a per diem allowance of approximately $250 to cover lodging, meals, local transportation, and incidentals. One visitor and one escort who spend two nights and three days in El Paso will likely spend $500. A community that receives 100 visitors in a year's time will contribute a minimum of $75,000 to the local economy. All visitors are interested in the economic links between their countries, so, in turn, U.S. local businessmen and professionals often learn new information about the international marketplace.