world economic forum travel risk security advice solace global
  • The World Economic Forum is due to take place between 23-26 January 2018, in Davos, Switzerland.
  • Leaders from around the world, including US President Donald Trump, are due to attend.
  • High levels of security provision can be expected within the vicinity of the conference.

Key Points

  • The World Economic Forum is due to take place between 23-26 January 2018, in Davos, Switzerland.
  • Leaders from around the world, including US President Donald Trump, are due to attend.
  • High levels of security provision can be expected within the vicinity of the conference.


Situational Summary

Travel Information: The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is due to take place between 23 and 26 January 2018. The conference will take place in Davos, Switzerland, where it is registered as a non-profit organisation. The WEF brings together more than 2,500 leaders from politics, finance, business, and science, with this year’s main theme being “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.” This year’s event will be co-chaired by women only.

Each year, the WEF publishes a detailed report called the Global Risks Report, highlighting the risks to global businesses. In this year’s report, the WEF highlighted the following 10 risks in terms of likelihood:

  1. Extreme weather events
  2. Natural disasters
  3. Cyberattacks
  4. Data fraud or theft
  5. Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation
  6. Large-scale involuntary migration
  7. Man-made environmental disasters
  8. Terrorist attacks
  9. Illicit trade
  10. Asset bubbles in a major economy

While the top 10 risks in terms of impact published were:

  1. Weapons of mass destruction
  2. Extreme weather events
  3. Natural disasters
  4. Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation
  5. Water crises
  6. Cyberattacks
  7. Food crisis
  8. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse
  9. Large-scale involuntary migration
  10. Spread of infectious diseases

Solace Global Comment

Individuals set to attend the WEF include French President Emmanuel Macron, actress Cate Blanchett, actor Shah Rukh Khan, singer Elton John, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde, IBM chairman Ginni Rometty, and new Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa. However, the most notable individual who is due to attend is US President Donald Trump. His visit will mark the first by a sitting US president since Bill Clinton in the year 2000. His visit will, if nothing else, stir a great deal of interest. In the 2016 election campaign and within the past month especially, President Trump has been accused of holding undiplomatic views towards some nations which will be represented at Davos.

It is a realistic possibility that Trump will chastise international leaders and continue to promote his ‘America First’ agenda, as he has been accused of doing at previous global summits. The ‘America First’ agenda is completely at odds with main theme of this year’s conference – “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.” Commentators have suggested that European leaders may use the meeting to continue their pivot away from US global leadership, though President Trump’s attendance at the event may represent his desire to engage with global elites, specifically Europeans. The WEF may also be used by Trump to help him rebuild or reset after a challenging beginning to 2018. The US President has faced criticism for comments made during discussions over immigration reform, he has been undermined by the publication of “Fire and Fury” (a tell all book on his first year in office), and recently cancelled a state visit to the UK, criticising the deal made on the new US Embassy in London.

The most important consideration for travellers is not the response President Trump is due to receive inside the conference (though this is of long-term importance) but his reception outside. Davos’ remote location does, however, give it a security advantage, in comparison to locations which have held other international events, such as the 2017 G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany (where violence was widespread). Larger anti-Trump protests are more likely to occur in the city of Zurich and may have a significant impact; Zurich is home to the closest airport to Davos. The Swiss campaign group “Campax” has received more than 15,000 signatures on its petition titled “Trump not welcome – stay out of Davos”. Campax has also applied for large-scale protest in both Davos and Zurich over the course of the conference, hoping to bring together at least 10,000 protestors in Zurich. A group of Americans in Switzerland under the banner of “Action Together: Zurich”, plan to rally in the aforementioned city on 20 January between 1100 and 1400 hours at Werdmühlplatz. The group plan to apologise for the “damage that the current US administration is trying to cause around the world”. A rally (unrelated to the WEF) planned in Geneva on 21 January to mark the first year anniversary of the Women’s March, is now expected to draw a larger crowd. More than 1,000 people took to the streets of the capital Bern on 13 January to protest President Trump’s arrival. The rally occurred without violence

Swiss police have demanded greater funding due to the threat of violent protest. Up to 5,000 soldiers are available for deployment alongside 1,000 additional police officers if deemed necessary, with checkpoints and roadblocks already being erected in the vicinity of Davos. Last year, 4,300 Swiss soldiers were deployed, with the airspace open only to aircraft ferrying participants to the forum.



Authorities in Switzerland have warned of the potential of unorganised and unauthorised protests. Unlike demonstrations coordinated with police, protests such as these have more potential to turn violent. Violence is also more likely if far-left and anarchist groups attend or organise protests. Travellers should avoid these large gatherings and prepare for violence at all rallies in the lead up to the World Economic Forum. Travellers should also expect travel disruption at Davos and Zurich especially (and other Swiss urban centres), due to enhanced security measures and the potential for civil unrest. The US Embassy in Switzerland has advised its citizens to maintain low profile and avoid sites of protests.

Travellers are advised to maintain at least the usual level of situational awareness and employ appropriate levels of personal security at all times. Solace Global would not advise clients of the need to implement physical security measures when visiting Switzerland. However, travellers should consider employing a travel tracking system with an integrated intelligence feed, to allow employers to effectively execute duty of care, and permit the traveller to remain up to date with potential threats.