ZURICH (Reuters) - Country for hire, one careful owner.
The tiny principality of Liechtenstein is putting itself up for rent in a bid to attract corporate conferences and bolster its tourism industry, a local official said on Friday.
The new "Rent a State" scheme lets corporate clients symbolically take over the tiny country of just 33,000 residents tucked away among the Alps between Switzerland and Austria.
"The basic idea is that an entire, small country plays host to a conference with all the various possibilities at its disposal," said Roland Buechel, director of the state tourism agency in Liechtenstein, which covers an area of only 60 square miles. Rent a State is based on the Rent a Village concept developed by event management firm Xnet AG in small towns in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
Xnet will drum up business among corporate customers seeking a venue for meetings, while the tourism agency will liaise with local authorities and help organize rooms and program ideas.
Customers will get tailor-made programs that put their brand on display and involve local officials -- but not the monarch Prince Hans Adam -- in special events.
"It is not envisioned to include the Prince or government officials," Buechel said.