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Davos goes Bürgenstock: World Economic Forum Style

Davos goes Bürgenstock: World Economic Forum Style
World Economic Forum heads to Bürgenstock

It came as a big surprise to everyone in Davos – The World Economic Forum (WEF). Yes, the WEF 2021 will be hosted at Bürgenstock, 500 meters above Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. The hoteliers were informed by letter of this upcoming global event.

About 2 weeks ago, it was announced that the World Economic Forum, which normally takes place in Davos in January (for 50 years), will change its location and timing next year. In addition to Bürgenstock, Switzerland’s Ticino was also discussed as an alternative venue.

Last week, the organizers of the World Economic Forum announced  that the 2021 International Annual Meeting will be held at Bürgenstock from May 18-21, 2021  

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In its statement announcing the planned move to Lake Lucerne, the WEF Forum acknowledged the continued uncertainty over whether COVID-19 will have abated sufficiently for its planned discussions to happen on “The Great Reset.”

A statement read:

“The meeting will take place as long as all conditions are in place to guarantee the health and safety of participants and the host community.”

The forum still plans to hold digital-only “Davos Dialogues” in January, at which global leaders will virtually “share their views on the state of the world in 2021.” It added that on Wednesday it hoped to be back in the Swiss mountains for its 2022 annual meeting.

The Swiss Air Force is responsible for monitoring and securing airspace, which is equipped with Super Puma helicopters, F/A-18 jets, mobile radar stations, and infrared cameras. “Drone repellent” is also used. For the security measurements, the Swiss army and Swiss Police Departments are deploying a cadre of nearly 10,000 soldiers and police officers.

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With the cost of air space surveillance and protection service around the clock for 10 consecutive days   amounting to 32 million Swiss francs, plus additional security costs of 9 million Swiss francs, the security expenses for the WEF are jointly being provided by the Confederation, the canton, the municipality, and the WEF.

But Davos will bring millions in revenue as historically tabulated by the WEF on its effect on the local economy. According to a study by the University of St. Gallen, the WEF generated sales of 94 million Swiss francs in Switzerland in 2017. 

At the 2018 annual meeting, more than 3,000 participants from nearly 110 countries participated in over 400 sessions. Participation included more than 340 public figures, including more than 70 heads of State and Government along with 45 CEOs of international enterprises and organizations, 230 media representatives, and almost 40 cultural leaders.

For Lucerne and the entire region of Central Switzerland, WEF 2021 could bring a real great reset in tourism as numbers of overnight stays of foreign guests dropped by 69 percent in 2020. Due to travel restrictions in particular, guests from overseas have not only stayed away from Switzerland  but mostly out of Europe altogether.

There were virtually no more travelers to Switzerland from the USA, China, and other Asian countries, which means a decline of guests from these countries of nearly 90 percent.

This is in strong contrast to the record year 2019 when American tourists dominated at 45 percent of all overseas arrivals.  

However, Lucerne has a spectacular Congress Center adjacent to the railway station of Lucerne. The Lucerne Cultural and Convention Centre (KKL) which is right in front of Lake Lucerne is a perfect venue and provides space for a new “keeping distance” format for conferences.    

Lucerne also offers a shorter direct train connection to Zurich airport and is just one hour away.

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“The WEF annual meeting on the Bürgenberg is a knighthood for the Bürgenstock Resort, the canton of Nidwalden, the city of Lucerne, and the region of Lake Lucerne as a special conference and meeting destination. It focuses on our emerging and innovative tourism and economic area. We would like to thank all the official bodies that make it possible to hold this conference of the highest international reputation under high security conditions,” said Robert P. Herr, General Manager of the Bürgenstock Resort, after announcing the WEF’s dates for next year.

The Bürgenstock Resort is owned by Katara Hospitality, Qatar Holding LLC, which was founded by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).

The famous historic Swiss resort icon of Bürgenstock founded in 1873, where once Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren got married, has been reshaped completely for over US$ 700 million (maybe more). 

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Chapel where Audrey Hepburn married Mel ferrer

The resort on the Bürgenberg is completely car-free and comprises 30 buildings. These include 4 hotels ranging from standard to 3-5 star superior and offering a total of 383 rooms and suites, and of course, with a conference center.

With a cautious and optimistic outlook on the 500 delegates that will be attending the 2021 event, the WEF is already thinking of a “reset” of 1,500 delegates.      

And, of course, Davos will be back in Davos in 2022. But who knows?

The WEF was founded in 1971 by Klaus Schwab, a business professor at the University of Geneva.

First named the European Management Forum, it changed its name to the World Economic Forum in 1987 and sought to broaden its vision to include providing a platform for resolving international conflicts. The WEF is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year –  leaving  many conflicts unresolved.

This copyright material, including photos © Elisabeth Lang (unless otherwise notated), may not be used without written permission from the author and from eTN.


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About the author

Elisabeth Lang - special to eTN

Elisabeth has been working in the international travel business and hospitality industry for decades and contributing to eTN for nearly 20 years. She has a worldwide network and is an international travel journalist.