Record attendance for the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
Next February, the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s most important event in the mobile industry, will open its doors in Barcelona for the 9th consecutive year. The major companies in the sector will introduce new products or give conferences on applications designed for many innovative uses. By hosting the fair each year at least until 2018, Barcelona, named Mobile World Capital, is looking to become an international leader in this industry. The city has also created a HUB to develop the sector even further. The 2014 edition of the fair expects to break all records. The Director of the MWC, John Hoffman, stated that 75,000 visitors were expected, meaning 3,000 more than last year. Besides, once the fair will be over, it is estimated the local economy could have gained €340 million from it.
L'Hospitalet de Llobregat (ACN).- Next February, the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s most important fair and discussion forum in the mobile industry, will open its doors in Barcelona. The Catalan capital will present the latest technologies related to mobile phones for the 9th consecutive year. The major companies in the sector will use this opportunity to introduce new products or give conferences on applications designed for many innovative uses. By hosting the fair each year, Barcelona, named Mobile World Capital from 2011 to at least 2018, is looking to become an international leader in the mobile phone industry in its own right. The city has also created a HUB in June 2013 to develop the sector even further. The 2014 edition of the fair expects to welcome more visitors and to have a greater economic impact on the city and its surroundings. Indeed, this Wednesday the CEO of GSMA and Director of the MWC, John Hoffman, stated that 75,000 visitors were expected to attend the event, meaning 3,000 more than last year. Besides, once the fair will be over, it is estimated the local economy could have gained €340 million from it. If such figures are confirmed, they represent an almost 4% increase since the previous edition, which generated €327 million from visitor expenditure in restaurants, hotels, taxis, and shops, according to a study by the GSMA, the company organising the MWC.
The next edition of the Mobile World Congress will be held from the 24th to the 27th of February 2014 at the Gran Via venue of Barcelona’s Trade Fair, located in L’Hospital de Llobregat (Greater Barcelona). The event moved to this new location so it could have a larger exhibition space, with 94,000 square metres at its disposal, and be close to Barcelona El Prat Airport. The major companies in the mobile phone industry will all attend the event, presenting their latest products and technologies.
Barcelona, the world capital in the mobile phone industry
Since 2006, Barcelona has been hosting the world’s main trade fair and expert congress in the mobile phone sector and related industries every year in February. The Catalan city was named the Mobile World Capital in 2011 for a 7-year period, which implies that it will organise the event until at least 2018. Outside from this event, Barcelona manages three other projects related to the sector, as the city is firmly intent on becoming a leader in the mobile phone industry, at international level. It hosts the Mobile World Centre, which acts as the permanent headquarters of the event as wells as an exhibition space. In addition, the Catalan city hosts the Mobile World Festival, which organises events related to the mobile phone industry throughout the year. In June 2013, Barcelona also unveiled the Mobile World Hub, “to transform Barcelona and Catalonia into the best mobile framework” to enhance entrepreneurship, develop business projects, attract talent, create knowledge and become one of the main world centres of the mobile industry”, as stated the official website.
Last year, Hoffman had acknowledged that “Barcelona is the world capital of the mobile phone industry, and it will still be it in the future”. The Catalan city works as a capital not only from a business point of view, welcoming each year for a few days the most important people and companies in the sector, from all over the world, but from a knowledge and institutional perspective as well. When the mobile phone HUB was created earlier this June, the Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig, stated that “We do not aim to become a Silicon Valley […] but we want to be the country where mobile solutions are developed” and mobile business initiatives “start-up and consolidate themselves”.
The number of Catalan companies attending the Mobile World Congress, which has constantly increased these past years, underlines the growth in the sector. In 2007 there were only 11 Catalan companies present at the event. In 2012 they were 52, almost five times more.
New records in sight
If last year’s fair was deemed the edition of records, it was mostly due to the transfer to the Gran Via facilities of Fira de Barcelona. This allowed the MWC to increase the exhibition space along with the number of exhibitors and visitors. It seems that this 2014 edition is intently set on breaking new records.
Thus, according to John Hoffman and the study conducted by GSMA, 75,000 visitors are expected to attend the 2014 edition, surpassing the 72,000 visitors in 2013. This would represent a 4% increase on last year’s attendance figures, while the 2012 edition had already achieved an 8% increase compared to 2011 figures. The number of international media and accredited consultants will also increase, reaching 3,500 two months before the event’s kick-off, that is to say over a hundred more since the previous year.
Boosting the local economy
The increase in visitors also involves a stronger economic impact of the fair on Barcelona and the entire metropolitan area. Thus, according to other GSMA figures, the next edition of the event should generate about €340 million, €13 million more than last year, as the economic impact was estimated at €327 million. Such figures also represent a €19 million increase since the 2012 edition.
On presenting these figures, Hoffman exclaimed he was “very proud” to be working in favour of the local economy by holding the fair in Barcelona. In this sense, he reasserted the value of holding the event in February, one of the least busy months for tourism in Catalonia. In fact, he explained that he had met on Tuesday evening with representatives of the restaurant industry in Barcelona who found that the Mobile World Congress was held “during the best days of the year” for them. “It is an honour to contribute to making the mobile sector thrive and we hope to continue doing so in the coming years” said Hoffman. Barcelona will continue hosting the event and will remain the world capital of the mobile-related industries until at least 2018.
Better access to the exhibition centre
The CEO of GSMA and Director of the MWC, John Hoffman, admitted that moving the Mobile World Congress to Gran Via had been “one of the greatest challenges” in the event’s lifetime. Indeed, it had also implied moving the thousands of visitors attending the fair each year, from a neighbourhood well-connected with Barcelona’s city centre to an area further away from the centre. In this regard, he announced that the organisers were already working alongside the directors of public or private transports, such as buses, trains, taxis and private vehicle renting companies to try to connect Barcelona better with the exhibition centre.
“We believe that next year, mobility will be better than this year” said the Director of the MWC who has looked intent on increasing the number of transportation means, especially to make the evening activities more accessible. Hoffman did not wish to make any statement on the delayed construction of the L9 metro line, which should link the Gran Via venues with the city centre. The Catalan Government has stated the works are not expected to be completed before 2016, two years later than initially planned due to the economic crisis and the need to reduce public deficit.