Image Credit: AFP

Geneva: The annual Davos gathering of political leaders, top executives and celebrities has set new dates for an in-person event, forsaking the ski season for a balmier week from May 22 to 26.

This year, the World Economic Forum had to postpone the January event with Covid cases surging. But after the Swiss government announced on Wednesday that it will ease travel restrictions for vaccinated and recovered persons from January 22, the organization founded by Klaus Schwab decided the situation was promising enough to set a new date.

This optimistic step stands in stark contrast to last year, which saw the meeting at first moved to Singapore, only to be canceled entirely in May after the insecure pandemic situation made reliable planning impossible. It was replaced with the Davos Agenda 2022, a virtual meeting of world leaders and executives that ended Friday.

For Davos locals, the rescheduling is a sigh of relief. The forum is vital moneymaker for the community of around 11,000 permanent residents, with hotels and apartments fully booked months in advance.

Switzerland’s Covid-related hospitalisations have been stable despite the country trailing western European vaccination rates. Its hospital capacity has also remained manageable, prompting the government to discuss further easing restrictions on February 2.