Barcelona. When the GSMA and Fira Barcelona –the city’s fairgrounds organization– announced in February the cancellation of this year’s show, they promised that next year’s MWC2021 would be the best ever event. The Catalan capital was eagerly waiting for the conference, initially scheduled for the first week of March 2021.
The MWC heavily influences Barcelona’s economy. After the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations end, the machinery of the GSMA and Fira Barcelona work around the clock to prepare for the conference. Not only MWC attracts more than 100,000 attendees between visitors, delegates, journalists, and exhibitors; it provides temporary jobs for over 15,000 service personnel. Additionally, during the 6-8 weeks before the event and several weeks after, large construction crews build facilities for registration and admission, additional temporary pavilions, and set up the booths and conference rooms.
Furthermore, MWC delegates and exhibitors spend millions in hotel accommodations, restaurants, transportation, sightseeing, and even attending football matches.
Every year, it is estimated that MWC represents an addition of over €500 million ($600 m) to the region’s economy in the first quarter of the year.
Since the 3GSM World Congress moved from Cannes to Barcelona in 2006, the event has been held in Fira Barcelona for 14 consecutive years in February or early-March.
With yesterday’s announcement of the conference’s postponement, all those expectations of recovery after this year’s disaster would have to wait until the summer. Obviously, many people are disappointed. However, the organizers, the city council, and the Catalan government believe it is the right decision to delay the event.
As the situation created by the pandemic is not getting better, and it is highly unlikely to have a vaccine this year, at least in sufficient quantities, keeping MWC on the original dates would be extremely difficult. If the decision to postpone has waited longer, it could mean the cancellation of the event altogether.
John Hoffman, CEO GSMA Ltd., says: “We have been overwhelmed by the support of all our partners and clients who remain dedicated to ensuring MWC21 Barcelona is a success. MWC is more than just an event. It’s an experience that brings the whole industry together and provides a platform to unlock the power of connectivity so that people, industry, and society thrive.”
Fira Barcelona also supported the decision, arguing that the postponement would give breathing room to assess the situation and plan for a much better event. “We fully support the GSMA’s decision to reschedule the dates for MWC Barcelona and are deeply committed to making the best possible 2021 edition with an extraordinary participation of companies and visitors.” says Pau Relat, president of Fira Barcelona.