Organisers of the traditional global gathering of political and economic elite, World Economic Forum, which is usually hosted in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, have moved the 2021 event to Singapore for health and safety reasons. Switzerland is still very much in the grip of coronavirus, with up to 10,000 cases a day reported in early November.
Singapore has just 28 people being treated in hospital for coronavirus and has recorded 29 deaths from Covid-19 in total, and the island state has won a strong reputation for its rigorous track and tracing system. CMW’s editor was a delegate recently as Singapore staged the first travel conference and exhibition in-person in the world since Covid, TravelRevive, a successful pilot event that showcased the country’s approach to dealing with the effects of the pandemic.
“In light of the current situation with regards to Covid-19 cases, it was decided that Singapore was best placed to hold the meeting,” a statement from the Davos Forum organisers said.
Singapore’s Trade Minister Chan Chun Sing said the Forum’s decision to hold the meeting in the country was “an affirmation of Singapore’s ability to provide a safe, neutral and conducive venue for global leaders to meet”.
Mr Chang Chee Pey, assistant chief executive, international group, Singapore Tourism Board, had told a media event launching the new Singaporeimagine brand at the end of November that, although the past 10 months had been hard, it had also been “a time of great innovation and opportunity” for Singapore.
“We adapted to new norms, we developed new experiences and we created solutions for problems that never even existed less than a year ago,” Mr Chang added. He said travellers would come and pointed to a recent study by Blackbox Research that said Singapore was one of the top post-pandemic destinations for travellers in Asia. “Our own Brand Health Study shows that 9 in 10 business travellers are likely to travel in the next 12 months and both leisure and business travellers continue to perceive Singapore as a safe destination, despite Covid-19.”
Before the pandemic, conference business supported more than 34,000 jobs in the city state and provided US$2.79bn of annual economic value, approximately 1% of Singapore’s GDP.
The 2021 in-person World Economic Forum annual meeting is now planned to take place in Singapore, 13-16 May, before returning to Switzerland in 2022.
It will be only the second time the event has been held outside Davos. In 2002, the forum was organised in New York to show solidarity with the US after the 9/11 terror attacks.