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Cancelation of MWC to incur estimated losses of €500m

Barcelona's hotel sector alone to lose hundred million after international mobile fair is canceled due to fears over coronavirus


13 February 2020 12:01 PM


ACN | Barcelona

The cancellation of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona due to risks related to the coronavirus comes with a cost: an estimated half a billion euros in revenue for the city.

Since the international mobile fair was first held in Barcelona in 2006, it is estimated that the event has brought into the city some 5.3 billion euros, and work for over 128,000 people.

SME business association PIMEC headed by Josep González estimates that "losses for SMEs will surpass the 200 million euro mark."

What will happen to the more than 14,000 people left without work this year remains to be seen, as with what will happen to the fair's parallel events , such as the 4YFN.

This year's MWC already began on the back foot, with murmurings that the event could move to Madrid, forcing GSMA CEO, John Hoffman, to come out and deny the rumors.

Three weeks later, GSMA made the decision to cancel the event, which was supposed to take place in the Gran Via and Monttjuïc congress venues between February 24 and 27.

Some 40 companies pulled out

The fair's organizers felt they had no choice but to call the MWC off, after some 40 companies announced that they would not be coming over fears about the coronavirus.

Under the slogan 'Intelligent connectivity without limits', due at the fair were more than 110,000 attendees and some 3,000 exhibitors from around the world.

In fact, of the 492 million euros in revenue that it is estimated cancelling the fair will cost, almost a hundred million was expected to go to the city's hotel sector.

Barcelona's hoteliers association says it will take time to come up with an exact figure on the losses, although it welcomed GSMA commitment to holding the fair in the city until 2023.

Taxi sector expects to lose up to 30%

Meanwhile, the city's taxi sector estimates that it will incur losses of up to 30% due to the cancellation of the MWC fair and is calling for the event to be rescheduled later this year.

The representatives of the hoteliers and the taxi drivers wondered why the Barcelona event had to be canceled while other similar events in other places in Europe were going ahead.

With sponsors from 200 countries, over 8,000 CEOs, and 179 government delegations, this year's MWC was supposed to be "historic", in the words of Hoffman, but it now seems it will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.


  • GSMA CEO John Hoffman at a press conference folllowing the cancelation of MWC 2020, February 13, 2020 (by Aina Martí)

  • GSMA CEO John Hoffman at a press conference folllowing the cancelation of MWC 2020, February 13, 2020 (by Aina Martí)