After the most recent editions, affected by the pandemic, this year the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona's most important trade fair showcase - and one which has established a real love story with the Catalan capital - has returned. Once overcome the nervousness following Ada Colau's arrival as mayor of Barcelona, in the sense that she might fulfill her election promise and ask the 'Mobile' to look for another home, neither the pandemic, nor Madrid's interest in moving the MWC to the Spanish capital has broken the alliance between the trade fair and the CEO of GSMA, John Hoffman, the person who holds the rights to the congress.
This year about 80,000 people are expected to visit, for the most part executives, from the global leaders in the business. The arrival at the fair of 20% more flights than in 2022 is expected, and it can be seen that, with the exception of some Asian companies, the vast majority have returned to a a similar presence level to that of the pre-pandemic era. For Barcelona, this week will have an economic impact of more than 350 million euros and will achieve an overall revenue total of more than 6.05 billion euros since 2006, when the MWC left Cannes, on the French Riviera.
Hoffman himself, who is constantly asked about whether the MWC is likely to transfer to another location and has spurned the overtures of the Community of Madrid and the Spanish minister who tried to seduce him with siren songs about Catalan instability, has, this weekend, underlined the unique alliance between the GSMA and the city of Barcelona, expressing pride in the legacy that the world's largest mobile technology event is creating in the Catalan capital. Not in vain, the alliance between GSMA and the trade fair organization, Fira de Barcelona, has given way to a broad public-private alliance from which everyone benefits. "We come here to do business," sums up Hoffman.
Once again, as it has since 2018, the World Mobile Congress has also been impacted by the political situation between Catalonia and Spain, the continuing repression - which means that a significant part of president Puigdemont's government from 2017 is either still in exile or banned from holding office - and the protest against the visit to Barcelona by Felipe VI for the official opening dinner which is the inaugural event of the congress sessions. The Catalan authorities once again did not receive him when they arrived at the Congress venue, nor did they appear in the photo of dignitaries with the monarch, although they did join in later, at the official dinner with the rest of the foreign guests. A way of making it clear that the political and institutional situation remains far from normal.