The World Economic Forum is currently in full swing in the Swiss alpine town of Davos where, despite heavy snowfall, world leaders have gathered to exchange ideas and discuss this year’s theme of ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’.
For IMEX Group CEO, Carina Bauer, this moment represents a PR victory for the business events industry.
“That so many world leaders are again travelling to the World Economic Forum in Davos is, quite simply, the ultimate testimonial to the power and importance of face-to-face meetings,” Bauer said.
This year’s World Economic Forum, which runs form January 23-26, has attracted record numbers: 340 top political leaders, 10 heads of state and government, and the largest Chinese delegation to date.
Heavy hitters like Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May are all expected to attend, along with International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director, Christine Lagarde, and several finance ministers, CEOs and directors of major banks and accounting firms from across the world.
“For so many globally influential figures to have allocated days in their tight schedules to travel and to meet their fellow leaders speaks clearly and strongly of the importance they place upon meeting in person,” Bauer stressed.
She added: “It is easy to underestimate the contribution that the global meetings industry makes to the economies of countries, regions and cities worldwide. In recent years national and local governments have begun to appreciate the valuable role of the industry in developing their knowledge economies and acting as a catalyst for innovation when convention bureaus work in collaboration with academia and industry in addition to the recognised direct benefits from business tourism.”
While the global contribution of the meetings industry is yet to be quantified, a recent study by the Event Industry Council revealed that in the US alone, the industry generates US$330 billion annually.
Extending beyond financial outcomes, Bauer insists the knowledge exchange that occurs at events like the World Economic Forum is far more valuable—and that the issues discussed will soon impact the global meetings industry.
"The fact that we too meet face to face makes that impact, and our joint accountability, all the more real.”