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    People share a lunch during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting on January 24, 2015 in Davos

    Limited Value for Money: Is Davos Worth Its Super High Price Tag?

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    The picture-perfect ski resort of Davos annually attracts the wealthy, the powerful and the famous for a few days of networking, problem-solving and partying in the Swiss Alps, but the World Economic Forum, as the overpriced high-octane gathering is formally known, has long been criticized for being short on deliverables.

    Participation in the forum comes with a hefty price tag attached. A typical Davos Man, as political scientist Samuel P. Huntington described the members of the elite club, has to cover the cost of the ticket to the meeting itself (approximately $19,000), the membership fee (up to $600,000), as well as travel and accommodation expenses. Hotels in Davos are not cheap, with rooms available for several thousand dollars a night.

    ​The World Economic Forum (WEF), a non-profit behind the event, offers several levels of membership. The basic level costs 50,000 Swiss francs (about $52,000), while Strategic Partnership – the highest level WEF has to offer – could be purchased for 600,000 Swiss francs (more than $590,000). On average, according to the International Business Times, attendees pay approximately $31,500 to participate in the meeting.

    In addition to Davos, members can attend other WEF meetings held throughout the year across the world. They also received access to the non-profit's research projects.

    The WEF comprises 1,000 members from the world's leading corporations with a turnover of more than $5 billion. In addition, the non-profit, which was founded by German engineer and economist Klaus Schwab, invites world leaders, heads of international organizations, scholars, actors, musicians and philanthropists to participate in Davos.

    In 2016, Davos speakers included UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al Abadi, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, US Secretary of State John Kerry, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, General Motors CEO Mary Barra to name a few.

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attends the session 'The Future of Europe' at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland
    © REUTERS/ Ruben Sprich
    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attends the session 'The Future of Europe' at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland

    Yet fewer people attended this year's forum, which was focused on "mastering the fourth industrial revolution." Approximately 2,500 people are said to have gone to Switzerland this year, while over 2,650 participants were slated to attend the meeting in 2013.

    Could it be, as conservative commentator Patrick J. Buchanan put it, because powerbrokers, who come to the Swiss Alps each January, are seen as "advancing an agenda" that serves, first and foremost, their own interests? Or has the forum become too crowded?

    In 2012, the Kommersant newspaper observed that Davos is incapable of "exerting a meaningful influence on purely economic processes." A year earlier, Chief Economist Russia & CIS for BNP Paribas Julia Tseplyaeva told the Vedomosti newspaper that the forum was well suited to discuss issues, not resolve them.

    This year, a former Davos participant told British journalist Simon Kelner that he was sitting the 2016 forum out. "It's much better I'm at my desk working, rather than sitting in a room talking about working," he noted.


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