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Barcelona takes hit as showpiece tech show cancelled on virus

Enric Catala, a Barcelona sommelier, watched in dismay as purchasers started cancelling the wine tastings he’d arrange at this 12 months’s showpiece know-how congress often known as MWC.

“In fact it has an financial influence – it’s an enormous occasion,” mentioned Catala, who owns Taca de Vi, which provides wine excursions, occasions and tasting periods. “However that is all brought on by one thing exterior – it’s not as if Barcelona did something fallacious.”

Occasion organiser GSMA on Feb 12 bowed to the inevitable and introduced that the 2020 conference wouldn’t go forward, after a succession of tech giants from Ericsson AB to Sony Corp to LG Electronics Inc pulled out citing issues over contagion from the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The cancellation is a blow to the worldwide tech trade, depriving corporations of a giant stage to showcase new merchandise and lay down markers for the newest client developments. The present has by no means been scrapped in its 33-year historical past.

Nevertheless it’s additionally a extreme setback for Barcelona. Spain’s second-biggest metropolis has over time equipped its economic system to serve MWC attendees whereas sprucing its credentials as a primary venue for exhibits and conventions.

The congress takes up two fundamental honest venues within the port metropolis, and the 2019 version hosted 107,000 folks from some 200 international locations whereas producing an financial influence of €473mil (RM2.13bil), in accordance with the Catalan regional authorities. The occasion additionally added 13,900 short-term jobs whereas attracting 2,400 exhibiting corporations.

Spain had seen no purpose to cancel the occasion on well being grounds, Deputy Prime Minister and Economic system Minister Nadia Calvino informed COPE radio in an interview on Feb 13.

The minister mentioned she would await additional explanations of the choice to cancel. Spain up to now has two confirmed instances of the coronavirus.

It’s too quickly to evaluate the impact from cancelled lodge bookings, trade affiliation Gremi d’Inns mentioned in an announcement Tuesday, although lots of Barcelona’s 430-odd motels are historically absolutely booked by attendees months forward of the congress.

“Barcelona has nice well being specialists who’ve mentioned there wasn’t a threat from coronavirus,” mentioned Jordi Mestre, the affiliation’s chairman. He mentioned he needed to know why the ISE occasion, the world’s largest exhibition for the techniques integration trade, was now underway in Amsterdam whereas MWC had been cancelled.

Trip-hailing companies equivalent to Cabify noticed a 3rd of their MWC bookings cancelled even earlier than the occasion was referred to as off, Jose Maria Goni, president of trade group Unauto in Catalonia, mentioned in an interview. Native companies had already suspended plans so as to add 1,500 drivers to complement the present 1,000 employees throughout the congress.

“2020 goes to be an annus horribilis,” Goni mentioned.

Some Spanish enterprise leaders have urged the cancellation may very well be an overreaction.

“I don’t assume anybody on this nation thinks this could occur,” Antonio Huertas, chairman of Mapfre SA, Spain’s largest insurer, informed reporters on Wednesday, including that his firm doesn’t have important publicity to the cancellation. – Bloomberg

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