Coronavirus Fear Causing Major Global Event Shutdowns

Coronavirus Fear Causing Major Global Event Shutdowns

The coronavirus is continuing to have an impact on the meetings and events industry, causing exhibitors to pull out of a major technology event; shutting venues in Wuhan, China; and disrupting travel. It is coronavirus fear at its strongest.



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Today, Wednesday, February 12, 2020, GSMA, which organizes
the Mobile World Congress (MWC), was forced to admit it would have to axe this
year’s event after more than 40 companies pulled out citing health and safety
concerns.

The MWC, which is billed as “the world’s largest exhibition
for the mobile industry” and which attracts around 100,000 visitors from almost
200 countries, looks set to be significantly affected by the spread of the
virus.

Companies that have announced their withdrawal due to this
coronavirus fear include Amazon, Ericsson, Facebook, Sony, Intel, Cisco and LG,
BT, Nokia, Ericsson, the US chipmaker Intel, Cisco, Vodafone, and Germany’s
Deutsche Telekom.

The Chinese firm Huawei was scheduled to be one of the
event’s biggest exhibitors and had flown employees to Spain to self-quarantine
in advance, reported The Guardian.

The GSMA had banned travelers from Hubei, the province at
the center of the virus outbreak. Approximately 5,000-6,000 (5-6%) of the
attendees each year have come from China.

Tonight, in a written GSMA statement on MWC Barcelona 202,
John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA Limited commented:

“With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in
Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020
because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern,
and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event.

“The host city parties respect and understand this decision.
The GSMA and the host city partners will continue to be working in unison and
supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions.

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators
worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators and nearly 400 companies in the
broader mobile ecosystem including handset and device makers, software
companies, equipment providers, and Internet companies, as well as organizations
in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces the industry-leading MWC
events held annually in Barcelona, Shanghai, and Los Angeles, as well as the
Mobile 360 Series of regional conferences.

The full cancellation will also represent a significant loss
to Barcelona and the city’s hospitality industry. The show is estimated to be
worth about €500m (£420m) to the city and provides 14,000 part-time jobs for
local workers, reported Spanish media.