From today on, the Mobile World Congress is held at the Fira de Barcelona until Thursday, the first of March. Annual attendance is generally more than 100,000 people. Until 2006, the event took place in Cannes and in 2011 it was announced that Barcelona had been chosen as the “GSMA Mobile World Capital” and continues to be the site of GSMA Mobile World Congress through 2023.
But, after political tensions, a debate has opened about the suitability of Barcelona as a host city for the Mobile World Congress. Several people and institutions have defended Barcelona, highlighting its outstanding tourist infrastructure. There is a lot at stake: the event puts the city at the center of the world and leaves more than 450 million euros.
The Minister of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda, Álvaro Nadal, stressed that Barcelona is “unbeatable” as the venue, and criticized that some want to “make it easy” for those who want to take advantage of the political situation in Catalonia to take it to another city. Nadal believes that hosting a congress of this type requires a city like Barcelona, a technological center of international relevance. He is aware that certain “political elements” may distort the operating of the fair and others want to take it to other countries, similarly to what happened with Brexit.
But Barcelona can not only count on political defenders but also on Telefónica Spain and the Vodafone group, whose CEOs expressed their support. Álvarez-Pallete, CEO of Telefónica Spain, assured at the inaugural session of the MWC, that “Barcelona is the best place to celebrate this event.” Amongst other advantages, Barcelona stands out for its art, culture, infrastructure, good weather, talent and one of the best football teams in the world, he further says.
Vittoria Colao, CEO of the Vodafone group, defended Barcelona and says the MWC and Catalan Capital have to stay together and what happened in the last couple of days does not affect the congress.