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Barcelona rallies to mitigate economic impact of MWC cancellation

MWC was cancelled for the first time in its 33-year history last week when organiser GSMA said it had become “impossible” for the show to go ahead in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic. 

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Barcelona City Council is promoting “Barcelona Opportunity Week” to reduce the economic blow of the cancellation of MWC, which was expected to bring over 100,000 mobile industry attendees to the city from 24-27 February.

 

The Catalan regional government calculates that last year’s MWC event had an economic impact of €473 million and generated 13,900 temporary jobs.

 

Following a meeting between mayor Ada Colau, Jaume Collboni, the first deputy mayor for economy, labour, competitiveness and treasury, and other key stakeholders, the City Council said Barcelona Opportunity Week will be a “hotel, gastronomic and cultural offer” aimed at MWC delegates who still intend to travel to Barcelona, as well as at drawing new visitors. More details will be released this week.

The Catalan regional government calculates that last year’s MWC event had an economic impact of €473 million and generated 13,900 temporary jobs in Barcelona.

Further, Barcelona Tech City is working with the start-up community to run a series of “Digital Spirit” events from February 24-26, and plans to launch a schedule tomorrow. The programme aims to help start-ups and potential clients and investors to connect since MWC’s accompanying 4YFN (4 Years From Now) start-up event is also cancelled.

 

Telecom publication LightReading is compiling a running list of those who still intend to travel to Barcelona.

 

MWC: mission impossible

 

MWC was cancelled for the first time in its 33-year history last week when organiser GSMA said it had become “impossible” for the show to go ahead in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic. Several high-profile vendors and operators had already dropped out, including BT, Ericsson, Nokia, Deutsche Telekom, Rakuten and Orange, whose CEO, Stephane Richard, chairs the GSMA.

 

A report from Wired before the cancellation was confirmed suggested that the GSMA had called on Spanish authorities to declare a health emergency so that losses could be covered by insurance.

 

However, mayor Colau reportedly said the city was “perfectly prepared” for the event and there was “no reason whatsoever” to declare such an emergency.

“We wanted to make a fast, efficient reaction, with positive proposals… We launch a message of dynamism.”

On Friday, Colau expressed regret about the cancellation of MWC, saying the city was “better prepared than ever” but stressed the importance of looking ahead to the 2021 edition while making the best of the situation this year.

 

“We wanted to make a fast, efficient reaction, with positive proposals… We launch a message of dynamism,” deputy mayor Jaume Collboni said [translated].

 

Bloomberg reports that the GSMA is citing a “force majeure” behind the event cancellation and calling for “solidarity when it comes to the financial impact”.

 

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