The WEF in Davos - A Platform Boosting Swiss Prestige and Economy (2/2)

Once every winter, the village of Davos transforms into the global epicenter of the politico-economic world when it hosts the WEF. Welcoming global leaders and high-level delegations, Switzerland also reaps significant economic and diplomatic benefits.

Posted jeudi, janvier 18 2024
The WEF in Davos - A Platform Boosting Swiss Prestige and Economy (2/2)

The World Economic Forum (WEF).2024 edition, which got underway on Monday in the serene Grison Alps, is no different. This unique gathering offers Switzerland a prestigious stage to showcase its prowess in hosting major international events. 


Davos: The Alpine Heart and World’s Focal Point

Perched at 1,600 meters in the Grisons canton, Davos, is the highest Alpine town in the oriental part of Switzerland. Birthplace of the WEF in 1971, this 13,000-inhabitant ski-resort has evolved into a global center of influence, thanks to the initiative of German engineer Klaus M. Schwab.

The WEF organization, is a prominent international non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Switzerland. It aims at fostering public-private sector collaboration and engages influential figures from business, politics, academia, and other sectors in shaping agendas across global, regional, and industry lines. The Foundation has published a turnover of 409 million CHF ($475 million) for 2022-2023,

Financially, the WEF is primarily supported by its 1,000+-member multinational companies, reflecting its deep ties with the corporate world and its significant influence. What began as a management symposium has transformed into an annual forum addressing critical global issues, marking a half-century success story.


Fortifying Security for World Leaders: High-Stakes costs for Davos city

As the hospitality of the host city is showcased to the global audience, Swiss security forces remain on heightened alert. Facing a diverse array of threats including activists, espionage agents, and cyber attackers, coupled with the harsh reality of a frigid -16°C, the safety of Davos' elite guests is of utmost importance. For the 2024 event, the city is allocating 9 million Swiss francs (equivalent to $10 million) solely for public security, emphasizing the premier status of this gathering.

The Swiss army’s involvement in securing the WEF also represents a significant cost. Up to 5,000 Swiss military personnel are deployed to bolster security during the 2024 WEF’s four-day duration. The budget spanning from 2022 to 2024 set at 32 million francs, highlights the depth of security measures for this A-list event.

Major Economic Benefits for Switzerland

Hosting the WEF in Davos transcends geopolitical prestige. The event generates notable economic benefits, boosting tourism, and local services.

The Grisons region greatly benefits from the financial windfall of the WEF, with thousands of paying participants and a massive influx of visitors. Participation costs, reaching up to €500,000 for some companies, reflect the importance and perceived value of attending this global event. The event significantly contributes to the Swiss economy, with the economic net impact estimated for the four-day summit in 2023 along at around €80 million.

Far more than a mere congregation of global leaders, the WEF is  catalyst for substantial economic vitality. Drawing an impressive array of visitors and participants from all corners of the globe, it infuses life into the local economy.

Rising Success Amidst a Tide of Criticism

In recent years, the World Economic Forum’s luster has been dimmed by critiques that call into question its real effectiveness. The main criticism is that Davos serves as a platform for influential personalities to exchange grand ideas without making significant progress in solving major global challenges. 

Yet, as the planet faces a severe climate crisis, the forum is criticized for its extravagance, notably the parade of private jets landing at Europe’s highest altitude airport, Engadin, contributing to a substantial carbon footprint. These aspects highlight a paradox where prominent figures debate the planet’s future while engaging in unsustainable practices.

Nevertheless, in terms of prestige, hosting the WEF is not just about navigating global dialogues. It showcases Switzerland's status as a hub for international business and politics, translating diplomatic gatherings into tangible economic benefits.



Aude Ghespière