Weirdly quiet Davos ski resort with no budget talk this year

DAVOS (Reuters) – Student protesters who urged world leaders at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos to “stop lying to us” this year must be happy, at least when it comes to flying.

The streets of the small Alpine town that welcomed some 3,000 business leaders, political thinkers and state leaders for last year’s annual meeting are deserted. Discussions have moved online, starting Monday, and COVID-19 restrictions are also keeping regular tourists away.

“Look around, it’s empty. Normally, all hotels would be fully booked right now, ”Reto Branschi, Davos Klosters’ head of tourism, told Reuters in an interview this week.

He said the fact that outdoor activities like skiing were still possible helped soften the blow, but the share of foreign tourists is expected to be less than 10 percent versus 35 percent in normal years.

Svea Meyer, owner of Kaffee Klatsch cafe in Davos, said she had to lay off staff and was preparing for the possibility that the World Economic Forum would not return to Davos at all.

“I can’t see anything good (in the cancellation), we’ve built so many relationships over the years, made friends,” he said with a look of regret.

This year there are no helicopters patrolling the skies, no protester trying to outsmart the security forces sealing the alpine resort, no Greta Thunberg stealing the show from former US president Donald Trump.

But not everyone is saddened by a lack of enthusiasm.

“Absolute peace and quiet,” said a local woman wearing a mask. “I don’t miss it at all.”

Reporting by Arnd Wiegmann. Additional reporting and writing by Silke Koltrowitz. Editing by Christina Fincher