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Davos Security, the World Economic Forum
“What are the concerns when protecting VIPs attending Davos?”
by Alex Bomberg, Group CEO
Every January, world leaders, government ministers, ambassadors, business leaders and commentators alike come together for a week of meetings in Davos, in the state of Graubünden in the Canton of Grisons, Switzerland. This movement founded in 1971 is the World Economic Forum (WEF), formally known as the European Management Forum, it was renamed World Economic Forum in 1987.
The World Economic Forum has an annual theme and over the years, these themes have included Resilience, Partnering for security and prosperity, Trust building and Leadership in fragile times. The theme for the WEF 2020 was “Stakeholders for a cohesive and sustainable world”.
In 2007, the WEF foundation established an annual meeting held in China entitled ‘Annual Meeting of the New Champions’ (also referred to as “Summer Davos”).
Intelligent Protection International Limited has had the pleasure to provide Close Protection and logistical services to World Economic Forum attendees from around the globe.
The World Economic Forum sees around 3000 attendees each year, this coupled with security, catering, logistics and press, and you have got a lot of people in one small place. With such a high concentration of Ultra-High-Net-Worth-Individuals and world leaders in one small area, this brings security concerns and logistical complications for those wishing to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Security Issues at Davos
The World Economic Forum is extremely well-protected, and the Swiss Security Services are well-versed by now at running a very slick security operation in Davos. There have been no security incidents at Davos apart from a few espionage concerns over the years, and that of course includes electronic eavesdropping; Davos 2020 was marred by stories of Russian spies!
Swiss police had five months prior to the start of the World Economic Forum detained two Russians who had diplomatic passports, who were acting as plumbers! It is for this exact reason why TSCM Sweeps are important including in accommodation.
Of course, over the decades as threats change, the authorities must meet these new threats; the most recent of these is the anti-drone technology now deployed during the WEF to combat any airborne weaponized drone threats.
The main concern of Swiss authorities is of course the Islamic jihadist threat. Davos attracts the who’s who of world politics including serving and former world leaders, all of course legitimate targets for the likes of militant group Islamic State (Isis).
The Security of the event is quite complex; Davos only has a limited capacity, so attendees, press and security end up staying at hotels and guest houses in outlying communities and not in Davos itself, in fact it is not uncommon for people to stay a fair distance away.
The 2020 cost of the security operation at Davos was set at CHF 9 million with the Regional government in charge of the security. The cost split four ways between the Canton of Graubünden, Davos, Confederation and WEF. There is also support from police teams across Switzerland, as well as from the Swiss armed forces, including some quite specialist units.
In essence, when within Davos, there is no major personal security concern, the area is very well-protected.
What are the security threats for attending Davos?
In our view, there is an overall security threat in Davos, but the main threats would be at Zurich Airport, during transportation to and from Davos and within hotels. The town of Davos might be in the “too difficult” box for your average terrorist. The odds of a full-blown assault on the likes of the President of the United States is not very likely at Davos, the security apparatus in place would stop any such attack in its tracks.
The likelihood is that if an attack was to take place, it would be something like an active shooter scenario at a hotel, not necessarily in Davos, but maybe in one of the surrounding towns. The best possible mitigation to any such security threats is to ensure that you have a joined-up approach to your security and logistics.
Professional security-trained drivers working hand in hand with a professional security team, which is the solution that we at Intelligent Protection International Limited provide for our own clients.
Logistical challenges at Davos
It is fair to say that the World Economic Forum is at maximum capacity number wise and this has become a concern to its Founder and Executive Chairman, Klaus Schwab who in 2019, stated that if affordable accommodation could not be found for the support staff (that numbers thousands) that the World Economic Forum may need to move away from Davos and find a new home.
The single biggest mistake that people make in relation to attending Davos is leaving everything to the last moment. Hotels in Davos fill up very quickly and are in most cases booked up years in advance and even further afield, it can be very hard to find any spare capacity; this will often lead to parties being split up among a few hotels. Getting any hire vehicles in Zurich during Davos at the last moment is also almost impossible.
Driving to and from Davos can be a challenge and there is a bit of a morning rush hour feel to it. There is always the odd check point to navigate through, but providing the vehicles have the correct passes, there should be no problems.
Even if staying in Davos, attendees need to ensure that they factor in the time it will take to go through security checks to enter the conference.
Booking our security and logistical services for Davos
Please do get in touch with us well in advance to book our Security services for Davos +44 207 4566740 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We have more information on the services that we provide for Davos on our page “Executive Services for Davos".