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Mobile World Congress cool on Barcelona’s future as host

The GSMA issued a statement saying it 'continues to monitor the situation in Spain and Catalonia'
28/11/2017

Pictured: MWC in Barcelona

The future of one of Barcelona’s biggest association meetings, the Mobile World Congress (MWC), remains clouded in uncertainty amid continued political unrest.


Organiser the GSMA has reiterated its concerns about the location of the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, which has been staged in Barcelona since 2006.


In a short statement it said it, ‘continues to monitor the situation in Spain and Catalonia and assess any potential impact for the Mobile World Capital and the Mobile World Congress’.


The GSMA however confirmed that the 2018 edition would be held in the Catalan capital, February 26-March 1, as planned, and recalled its agreement to stay in the city until 2023.


GMSA CEO John Hoffman visited Barcelona earlier this month for a meeting  of the Board of Trustees of the Barcelona Mobile World Capital Foundation, in which, according to local newspaper La Vanguardia, there was talk of ‘restlessness and unease’ about Barcelona’s role as congress host.


According to further media reports Catalonia’s decision to unilaterally declare independence has  prompted some companies to move their headquarters out of the region, and there is a concern that a risk averse GSMA may find an alternative home, too, if the situation deteriorates.


Last year, the Mobile World Congress attracted a record 108,000 delegates, generating EUR 465 million for the local economy, and more than 13,000 temporary jobs.


The enormous gathering has not been universally admired by Catalans however.


Mayor Ada Colau, a former housing activist, expressed doubts about the sustainability of continuing to host the event, in the context of mass tourism and its impact on the city, although she later backed the organisation’s commitment to remain in the city for the next six years.


The GMSA is sensitive to any kind of disruption that might affect the smooth-running of its annual congress, which has become the international showcase event for the industry. It previously raised concerns about a metro strike in the city.


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