The GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications) has pulled the plug on its annual Mobile World Congress, the MWC 2020, in Barcelona, the world’s largest telecom/mobile phone show because of exhibitors pulling out due to their concern with their staff being exposed to COVID-19, the new name of the coronavirus per the World Health Organization.
At press time, there were 60,410 coronavirus cases and 1,370 deaths, according to Worldometer.
In a statement, GSMA CEO John Hoffman said, “The GSMA has canceled 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.”
One of the world’s biggest trade shows, the MWC 2020 showcases the city of Barcelona each year. On average, it attracts more than 100,000 attendees. This is a huge blow for the city as in years past, it has attracted more than 100,000 attendees injecting a reported $500 million into the local economy.
Before the cancellation, the GSMA had implemented measures to help prevent the spread of the virus, including changing mics between speakers and implementing a “no-handshake policy.”
The cancellation of Mobile World Congress joins a growing list that includes Credit Suisse Group AG’s annual Asia investment conference and Citibank’s annual Asia Pacific conference. ISPO Beijing, a sports trade show planned for February in Beijing, has also been canceled.
Other cancellations and postponements include IT&CM and CTW China that has moved its MICE-related trade show from March 24-26 to August 3-5, held at the Shanghai Convention & Exhibition Center.
In Singapore, the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore has rescheduled its February conference to May at Singapore EXPO.
Trade shows scheduled for the United States are being impacted as well. The NE Materials Show, scheduled to be held in Boston Feb. 5-6 has been postponed until further notice.
Hotels Close As Coronavirus Spreads
Hilton has closed approximately 150 hotels totaling about 33,000 rooms in China as the country reels from the outbreak of COVID-19,
If the outbreak lasts three to six months, with an additional three- to six-month recovery period, Christopher J. Nassetta, CEO, Hilton said during a post-earning conference call that the company can take a $25 million to $50 million hit.
The numbers are staggering. According to STR, there was a hotel occupancy decline of 75 percent in Mainland China at the end of January, and the situation is just worsening.
Hilton isn’t the only company closing hotels. Best Western has had to close many of its properties in China as well, and other hotel companies have altered their cancellation and change policies for Greater China.
The hotel industry isn’t the only one reeling from the coronavirus. Airlines and cruise companies have restricted travel to and from China as well.
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