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WEF Davos conference in doubt for 2021

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) flagship summit may not take place in Davos next year, businesses in the alpine town have been warned.

The pandemic had already forced organisers to postpone the event from its usual January slot to a potential early summer date.

But hoteliers in Davos, the alpine resort that has hosted the global conference for the past 50 years, have now received a letter casting doubt on whether WEF 2021 will take place there at all next year. The Südostschweiz newspaper broke the story which was confirmed to the news agency Keystone-SDA.

A WEF spokesman told swissinfo.ch that it was not “communicating on this topic for the time being, because no decision has yet been made.” He added that additional information would be made available in the coming weeks.

According to Swiss public radio broadcaster SRF, potential replacement locations for the event could include the Bürgenstock resort in central Switzerland, or Lugano in southern canton Ticino.

In June, WEF said it would slim down its annual event, which attracts thousands of politicians, business people and civil society leaders every year. The plan was to stage it in Davos from January 26-29, but with fewer participants and a virtual link to 400 cities worldwide.

But in August WEF said it could not hold the meeting in Davos in January because of Covid-19 fears. It suggested a potential postponement to early summer 2021 but added that a final decision could not be made until “we are assured that all conditions are fulfilled to guarantee the health and safety of our participants and the hosting community.”

The potential loss of the event for businesses in Davos would be significant.

WEF says its flagship event contributes tens of millions of francs each year to both Davos and the Swiss economy as a whole. Many hotels and restaurants rely on the annual influx of wealthy participants for a large slice of their income.