Switzerland: 2021 Davos summit shifted to Lucerne in May

The World Economic Forum announced Wednesday that its postponed 2021 Davos summit, themed as "The Great Reset" in the coronavirus crisis, will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland from May 18 to 21.

Switzerland: 2021 Davos summit shifted to Lucerne in May
Participants at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2020. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The annual gathering of the world's political, economic and business elite traditionally takes place in January against the idyllic snowy backdrop of the Swiss Alpine village of Davos.

But it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and, charged with remodelling the world economy in the wake of the crisis, will now be held 125 kilometres (75 miles) away in the plush Burgenstock resort overlooking Lake Lucerne.

“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,” WEF spokesman Adrian Monck said in a statement.

“The meeting will focus on the solutions required to address the world's most pressing challenges. “Global leaders will come together to design a common recovery path, to shape 'The Great Reset' in the post-Covid-19 era and rebuild a more cohesive and sustainable society.”

Hybrid format

The WEF announced in June that the 51st edition of its annual meeting would take place in a hybrid format, then in August said it was being delayed for several months to reduce any risks to participants from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lucerne summit will combine both in-person and virtual elements, with participants linked to a network of around 400 hubs worldwide to incorporate dialogue with the WEF's “young global shapers, to ensure openness and inclusion”, said Monck.

The summit will be preceded during the week of January 25 by digitally-convened high-level “Davos Dialogues”, when global leaders will share their views on the state of the world in 2021.

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1.04 million people while at least 35.5 million infections have been recorded since the outbreak emerged in China late last year, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

The pandemic has also triggered a global economic downturn, though the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday that while it is far from over, it will not be as bad as originally feared thanks to a flood of government spending.

The World Trade Organization said likewise, forecasting a global trade contraction of 9.2 percent this year, rather than its previous “optimistic scenario” prediction of 12.9 percent.

But global trade will then grow by only 7.2 percent next year, rather than the previous 21.3-percent estimate issued in April, the WTO added.

Swiss cases rising

The WEF announcement comes as Switzerland announced Wednesday that daily coronavirus cases had jumped over the 1,000-mark for the first time since April 1, when the peak of the pandemic's initial wave began to recede.

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset has urged the country to “get a grip” and be more rigorous in applying the basic measures to control the spread of the virus.

The 2020 edition of the WEF summit, hosted in January just as the world was beginning to become aware of the new coronavirus spreading in China, drew more than 50 heads of state and government to Davos.

It focused on themes of sustainability and finding a more inclusive model for capitalism. US President Donald Trump and Swedish teenage eco-warrior Greta Thunberg were among its top speakers.

The WEF said it aims to be back in Davos for 2022.

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’76 percent men in Davos’: The key numbers that explain Switzerland’s World Economic Forum

Thousands of soldiers and very few women. Here are the key facts and figures to help you understand the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos.

'76 percent men in Davos': The key numbers that explain Switzerland's World Economic Forum

Five: That’s the number of troops who tested positive for cocaine and cannabis use during the 2016 WEF meeting in Davos. A further seven soldiers tested positive for cannabis use alone. But a senior officer tried hard to put a good spin on the situation. “Our soldiers gave an exemplary performance…The few regrettable cases of drug consumption should not tarnish the overall positive impression,” Jean-Marc Halter, divisional commander of the Davos deployment, said at the time.

955.90 CHF: The cheapest hotel room in Davos on Wednesday night will set you back 955.90 Swiss francs (€840), according to That price is for for an economy single at the Zentrum Haus Hotel. Only three hotels have room available for January 23rd, with the most expensive option being a (somewhat poky, 12 square metre) room costing 10,012 francs at the Hotel Derby. At least breakfast is included in the price.

This hotel room in Davos would set you back 10.012 francs on Wednesday night.

2002: This is the only year since its inception that the WEF meeting did not take place in Davos. Instead, it was held in New York as a sign of solidarity after the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001.

-5C: This is the minimum temperature expected in Davos on Wednesday, the final official day of the WEF annual meeting – with the max at 6C. Compared to 2019 however, the temperatures are basically summery – last year the maximum temperature was -5C. The minimum, meanwhile, was a bone-chilling -14C. 

Read also: Davos 2019 – what you need to know about 'the world's most exclusive business bash'

Nothing: This is how much you will pay to attend one of the Open Forum events organised by the WEF during its Davos meeting. The events are open to the public but seating is limited so the WEF recommends you come early because people start lining up for tickets around 90 minutes beforehand. 

94 million: A study by researchers at the University of St Gallen estimated that the WEF annual meeting in 2017 generated revenue of 94 million francs across Switzerland. Meanwhile, local, cantonal and federal authorities received tax revenues of between 9.3 million francs and 10.5 million francs as a result of the event.

24: That’s the percentage of Davos attendees in 2020 who are women. This is two percentage points higher than in 2019 – and one higher than 2018.

5,000: The Swiss government has made provision for the deployment of up to 5,000 armed services personnel for the WEF annual meeting in Davos for the 2019–2021 period. The exact number of armed services personnel deployed in 2020 remains, however, under wraps.

Authorities won't reveal just how many police and soldiers are on duty during the WEF meeting. Photo: AFP

55: This is how many kilometres of fencing has been erected for security reasons during the WEF meeting.

7,000: As the hotel prices above reveal, staying in Davos during the WEF is not for the budget conscious. One Airbnb host was charging 7,000 francs (€6,170) per night for a rustic-looking but luxuriously-fitted five-room house in the city during the event, Swiss news site 20 Minuten reported in 2019. 

In fact, accommodation prices in the town are so high that the WEF itself has actually put up many of its own employees in nearby (and cheaper) Klosters.

1,560: This is how many metres above sea level Davos lies, making it the highest city in Europe.

3,000. Around 3,000 people are taking part in official events during the WEF meeting in 2020. 

41: Hungry? A 'Tokyo' menu made up of eight California rolls will cost you 41 francs (€36) at the Pöstli Lounge at the Morosani Posthotel in Davos. Olives cost 6 francs and jumbo fries with cocktail sauce 8 francs. While this may seem expensive, it is actually not bad value for Switzerland.

130: This is the estimated number of additional take-offs and landings from Zurich airport during the WEF meeting.

500: That is the approximate number of journalists who covered Davos in 2020.

12: The longest ski run in the Davos Klosters ski area is the classic Weissfluh-Gipfel–Küblis run at 12 kilometres. Four of the six winter sport resorts in the area are open during the WEF, with only the Pischa and the Rinerhorn closed. One local resident told The Local that the WEF period is a great time to take to the slopes in Davos because many people assume they can't go skiing in the area at this time.