Covid-19 has forced the World Economic Forum (WEF) to move from Davos to Singapore next year. The event will mark only the second time in two decades the key annual business meeting has not taken place in Switzerland.
Political and business leaders will convene in Singapore for the Special Annual Meeting 2021 from 13-16 May, the organizers of the event said in a statement on Monday. However, they plan to return the forum to Switzerland in 2022.
“The change in location reflects the Forum’s priority of safeguarding the health and safety of participants and the host community,” the statement reads. It added that the meeting will be the “first global leadership event to address worldwide recovery from the pandemic.”
It was previously announced that the date of the forum had been pushed back from its usual January slot, to May. In October, the organizers said that they would change the location of the meeting but were still planning to hold it in Switzerland. Instead of the Alpine ski resort of Davos, the WEF was set to take place in Lucerne-Buergenstock.
The shift could be a painful blow for Davos, as the gathering of global political and business elites is usually the biggest source of income for some local businesses. A study by researchers at the University of St. Gallen estimated that in 2017 the WEF generated revenue of around 60 million francs ($66 million) for the municipality, and about two million francs in local tax revenue.
While Singapore will become the first-ever location in Asia to host the forum, it will not be the first time the WEF has been held outside of Davos. In 2002, the meeting was moved to New York City to show solidarity over the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The decision to move the venue was made as the number of coronavirus infections in Europe continues to rise, forcing governments to tighten restrictions. Singapore previously said that it had done well in handling the coronavirus pandemic, with the city-state’s fatality rate being one of the lowest in the world. As of Tuesday, Singapore said that it had no locally transmitted Covid-19 infections for the third day in a row, while the total number of cases was at 58,273 and the death toll stood at 29.
“Despite the ongoing pandemic, we are confident that Singapore will be able to continue maintaining public health and safety while supporting the WEF’s mission to effect positive change through collaboration and engagement,” Singapore Trade Minister Chan Chun Sing said in a statement.
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