Subscribe For Free

MWC faces pressure from travel restrictions

Mobile News
March 29, 2021

After a number of vendors drop-outs, the situation with the event is frequently changing

The GSM Association is in “ongoing discussions” with the Spanish authorities about handling international visitors to the Mobile World Congress in view of the latest “third wave” of COVID emerging in Europe.

Last week’s travel restrictions will also no doubt impact on the thoughts of people in the UK hoping to visit MWC at the end of June.

“Things are changing frequently in the current circumstances,” said a GSMA spokesperson.

“Some countries are making a distinction between personal and business travel. We are working to source the most reliable information and will share updates in the coming week.

“We acknowledge that travellers may face different situations depending on their country of origin. Guidance is sometimes ambiguous and in this climate can change frequently.

“To help attendees and exhibitors plan their travel, we are taking steps to source clear, concise information and will continue to share updates in the coming weeks.”

In 2019, just under eight per cent of attendees at MWC were from the UK. The GSMA said it still expects around the same number this year provided COVID protocols for travel support it.

Big names cancel

The GSMA has produced strict health and safety protocols for MWC, including mandatory testing, mask wearing and social distancing,

However this has not been enough to prevent big names such as Sony, Nokia, Oracle, BT and Facebook cancelling their attendance. Huawei is also monitoring the situation, a source at the company told Mobile News.

Some speakers have also voiced reticence about speaking in crowded auditoriums.

Ben Wood, a chief analyst at CCS Insight who is a regular visitor to MWC, said: “The biggest challenge with MWC is the uncertainty around the event. Although we have booked (refundable) flights and hotels, it is impossible to make a final decision on attending the event at present.

“The UK government is cautioning against summer travel and the vaccine programme has slowed down for under-50s.

“Furthermore, in mainland Europe a third wave of COVID is emerging and vaccine take-up is lagging the UK. Right now, we are currently taking a wait-and-see approach.”

Share this article