At the Fringe: Stories from Davos (5) – In the Conference Bubble

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The coming days, 450 international guest are expected in Davos, according to Martin Lehmann, conference manager of WRF. Media outlets send journalists, the world comes visiting, VIPs of any kind go for a stroll in the streets when Davos invites for one of its international conferences, the most important one being the annual World Economic Forum. While Davos proudly names itself the “leader in the global meeting market in the mountains”, the conferences take place in a bubble. Local life continues in a parallel world one day before the World Resources Forum (WRF) in October.

„There is an international conference? I didn’t know about it“, Marco Knüpf says. The young man in his mid-thirties is smoking his cigarette while waiting at the bus stop just around the corner of Davos’ major conference center that can cater for 5000 people in its best times. The large banner that announces the WRF just some meters further has gone unnoticed. He knows about two international conferences per year: „I usually stay at home when the World Economic Forum takes place”, he admits. The atmosphere outside is too stressful, the busses are late, the shops full of people. “And there is another big one about nature conservation. But I don’t know the name“, he tells.

While Knüpf mentions two international conferences, Ursula Gross adds a zero to his observations: She estimates there are around 20 international conferences a year. The older lady, who takes her dog out for a walk, lives opposite the conference center. “I read the announcement of WRF in the newspaper”, she tells. Her feelings about the life in an international conference city are mixed: “These conferences are good for the city, but they are not of advantage for the local population”. She tells about her own experiences: “There are a lot of cars which block the streets around the conference center”.

Also Regina Maier watches the events from the outside: “I only get to know about the conferences through our guests”. The young woman works as receptionist in the Davoser hotel “Alte Post” that is around 1,5 km away from the conference center. “When the guests arrive, I usually ask them what conference takes places at present” she says. WRF was unknown to her until her guest told her about it.

The Davos Conference Centre in the middle of the City.

Wikimedia Commons/World Economic Forum/Andy Mettler

The Davos Conference Centre in the middle of the city.

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