For Maya Schmuker, the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is a source of extra income. The Davos native serves as a travel guide for WEF participants. (Kristian Kapp, swissinfo.ch)
“I have a positive attitude about the WEF,” says Maya Schmuker. The 63-year-old was born in Davos, grew up there, and, after a time away, has lived there continuously for the past 33 years. In winter, she sells tickets for the Jakobshorn mountain railways. In summer – and during the WEF – she works as a tour guide, mostly for the wives and girlfriends of men attending the forum.
“I either show them the city via limousine trips, or I accompany larger groups at the annual ‘women’s programme’.” Activities include learning how a typical Swiss cheese fondue is made.
“Afterwards, we all eat fondue, and for dessert, there’s even a chocolate version,” says Schmuker. The programme also includes a train journey. “Then I take the ladies to St Moritz for some shopping.”
Maya Schmuker hopes that the WEF will remain in Davos for a long time. “It’s one of our two trademarks,” she explains. “When people abroad ask me where I live, I always say, ‘Where the WEF and the Spengler Cup take place’.” The Spengler Cup, the world’s most traditional ice hockey club tournament, celebrated its 90th anniversary in December 2016.
Schmuker knows that the WEF in Davos is controversial. “There are people here who hate it and people who love it.” For many people, the WEF is a good business opportunity, also for private individuals who rent their apartments to participants for the week.
But there are also sectors that suffer during the WEF. “No one comes to ski because the hotels and holiday homes are already occupied.” Although the mountain railways try to attract guests with special offers, the WEF keeps many away – but it’s a boon for some.
“During the WEF, the locals are particularly fond of skiing, because the slopes are practically empty.”