Mobile World Congress organizers reaffirm desire to keep trade show in BCN beyond 2024

Industry fair expected to have “much smaller” impact on Catalan economy compared to other years

Visitors at the entrance to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2019 (by Laura Pous)
Visitors at the entrance to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2019 (by Laura Pous) / Guifré Jordan

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

April 19, 2021 06:25 PM

The CEO of the GSMA, John Hoffman, reaffirmed his desire to keep the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona beyond 2024, the year in which the trade fair's current commitment to the Catalan capital ends. 

"So far we have had a wonderful relationship with Barcelona; why change something that works?" the head of the fair’s organizing body asked on Thursday in an interview with Catalan television station TV3. 

The COE also reassured there will be no date change to this year’s edition, and the dates of June 28 to July 1 are "immovable." 

The Mobile World Congress expects to have a “much smaller” impact on the Catalan economy than regular years, due largely to the much reduced international participation. Hoffman explained on Catalonia’s Rac 1 radio station that the trade show expects to bring around “20% of the usual, maybe a little more, between €100-200 million" to the local economy. 

Despite this reduction and the obligation to do a partially virtual edition, Hoffman is satisfied, especially when compared to 2020. "Canceling last year's edition was a huge risk. Unfortunately, we are half as big as we were a year ago. The Mobile World Congress could have disappeared," he said.

The American businessman has also called for more people from around Spain to attend in person, as there would likely be some restrictions on international mobility. “We want to see the local community helping us,” he commented.

According to data provided by Hoffman, about 28,000 people from across Spain attended the event each year, a figure that the GSMA wants to raise to around 35,000, with a total capacity of around 50,000. 

Finally, the CEO of the GSMA wanted to highlight the security of the event and the protocols that have been developed. “We are confident that our program is safe,” he assured.