The CEO of GSMA, John Hoffman, said on Thursday that the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in 2021 will have about 30,000 attendees and predicted that the fair will take “a couple of years” to recover the volume of exhibiting companies and congressmen from 2019, before the pandemic.
In an interview with Efe, Hoffman said that it will be necessary to “regain momentum” and hopes that in 2022 the congress can “get closer” to the 2019 figures, before the pandemic, above 100,000 people.
However, he estimated that “it will take a couple of years” to regain the pre-covid rhythm, something he calculates based on the blow caused by the 2008 financial crisis, which slowed the growth of the fair for two years.
“I want it to be as big as before, but companies have to analyze, you know, if they did not participate for two years … Does it still make sense for them to come? So we will have to regain momentum,” said the counselor. delegate of the employer organization that organizes the event.
Hoffman assured that in this 2021 edition, which will take place between Monday, July 28 and Thursday, July 1, more than a thousand exhibiting companies will participate, some 700 in person and another 300 only in virtual format.
Companies such as Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Qualcomm, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, Nokia and Xiaomi have already announced that they will not physically go to the event.
In Barcelona, at least until 2024
Looking ahead to future editions, John Hoffman said that cities like Paris or Milan are “very interesting” places to host the MWC, although he said he was “very happy” with the fair taking place in Barcelona.
For now, it is guaranteed that the congress will remain in Barcelona until 2024, but the organizing employers of this event “have not yet analyzed” what to do from then on.
“Probably after the 2022 congress we will sit down and start talking, because it is something that takes a while”, he indicated about the next steps to take: “We will see what the future holds, but we are very happy to be in Barcelona” , has added. In any case, the GSMA wants to keep the MWC in Europe, as this is a “neutral territory” between the United States and China, the two great technological powers.
Hoffman highlighted its tourist attraction in Paris and Milan, which is “very big”, although it is a question of cities without sea and with worse climate, as he has recognized. “All cities have pros and cons,” he later summarized
Likewise, there are already some 25,000 people registered to attend the event, so Hoffman estimates that it will be between 30,000 and 35,000 who will finally attend the Fira de Gran Via, figures that are far from the more than 100,000 people who used to visit the congress. at other times.
When is MWC 2021 in Barcelona? Dates and hours
Final attendance will largely depend on “local participation”, which in this congress will be close to 50% of the total -including people from all over southern Europe-, as explained by Hoffman.
The pandemic has also reduced the presence of international exhibitors : if normally people from up to 198 countries used to register, this time it will reach a hundred nationalities.
GSMA has wanted, as a remedy, to promote the participation of local professionals with tickets starting at 21 euros, a formula that has not worked as expected: “We have seen a good response, but not the type of tens of thousands that we expected, “Hoffman acknowledged.
At the MWC presentation, on May 20, he calculated that up to 30,000 people could benefit from this offer and announced that ten euros of each of these tickets would go to the post-covid recovery of Barcelona.
Specifically, as reported by Hoffman on Thursday, this money will go to the vaccination campaign that takes place at the Fira.
The GSMA CEO has also avoided predicting what impact the MWC of this 2021 will have on the Catalan economy, something he will report once the congress is over.
Being a more limited edition than usual, the MWC will occupy three pavilions of the Fira, about 100,000 square meters, and for the first time it will share the premises with the Four Years From Now (4YFN), an innovation and entrepreneurship event that used to take place in Fira de Montjuïc.
Hoffman has guaranteed that the MWC will have an “extensive and very professional testing program (for covid) for all who come”, tests that will be valid for 72 hours, which will result in “a very safe atmosphere” to go carry out all the activities of the fair.
“We are very confident, as are the health authorities, that our plan is more than solid to ensure that all participants can be safe on site,” he said.