LONDON — Mobile World Congress (MWC), known as the biggest show of the wireless industry, is ambitiously planning to welcome 50,000 people, approximately half of its typical attendance, to Barcelona’s Fira Gran Via venue in late June of this year. Last year, when MWC canceled its 2020 show scheduled for February in Barcelona, just as COVID-19 emerged as a worldwide problem, the move underscored just how serious the pandemic situation was for the trade show industry.
Traditionally held in late February or early March, the dates of the Barcelona show and the Shanghai show were swapped last year, with the Shanghai event taking place Feb. 23–25, and the Barcelona show rescheduled from February to June.
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In February, MWC Shanghai 2021 attracted around 17,000 attendees from 114 countries and territories, and Stephanie Lynch-Habib, the GSMA’s chief marketing officer, said in an interview on March 8 that there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on site.
“Working together with the Shanghai authorities, we’ve just concluded the first in our MWC series in Shanghai,” said GSMA’s Director General Mats Granryd. “Our partners, exhibitors, board, and local businesses’ support was heartening, and everyone contributed to creating a safe environment by sticking to the safety measures. I am now looking forward to MWC21 Barcelona; it is time to bring together the mobile ecosystem in-person. I relish the discussions that will emerge from this essential event.”
On March 8th, the GSM Association (GSMA), which organizes MWC, released details of its health and safety plan for MWC21 Barcelona, entitled Committed Community. The plan adopts a layered approach to ensure a safe environment for staff, workers, exhibitors, visitors, suppliers, partners, and the local community. This year participants can connect in person or online.
“Check In To Get In” is the first step in the multi-layered plan. When participants download My MWC, a bespoke app designed for MWC21 Barcelona, it activates a digital badge that enables participants to enter the event once they have completed registration, self-declaration and testing. All attendees will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test and repeat that test every 72 hours with attendees advised through the My MWC app of approaching expiration.
Travelers from some destinations will need to show a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to board planes and travel to Catalonia. Attendees arriving by train or car will be directed to MWC testing centers to validate their health status. Temperature checks will also be performed at all access points within the venue. Additional layers of health and safety include frequent testing, contact tracing, touchless environments, revised catering, room occupancy monitoring, upgrades to facility infrastructure, increased medical staff and personal commitments like adhering to social distancing.
In 2019, MWC Barcelona drew 109,000 attendees from 198 countries and, according to Reuters, the show has previously given a $500 million lift to the local economy.
“The next platform for the mobile communications industry is MWC Barcelona in June,” said GSMA’s Granryd. “The lessons learnt in Shanghai and the momentum gained will enable us to deliver another world-class event. The global recovery from the pandemic will continue to rely on our industry’s technology. The prospects for wireless connectivity have never been greater. Barcelona will be the place to be for anyone wanting to maximize those opportunities.”
Learn more at www.gsma.com.