Mobile World Congress

MWC 2022 exceeds forecasts and closes with over 60,000 attendees

Number of congress attendees is over half the number in last pre-pandemic edition

2 min
Attendees at Mobile World Congress 2022, during the last day of the show.

BarcelonaThe Mobile World Congress 2022 was planned as an edition which set the event on the route to full recovery next year; however, the final balance ended up surpassing forecasts. The event closed on Thursday with over 60,000 attendees, after four days of exhibitions and conferences at the Fira de Barcelona exhibition center in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat. This volume of congress attendees is over half the number of visitors in 2019 (it was then 110,000) and represents a leap forward compared with the 20,000 attendees last year. That was a hybrid version held to ensure GSMA's survival after 2020's cancelled edition, but this year the fair again saw queues and crowds reminiscent of pre-covid-19 times.

"There is nothing comparable to MWC in person. It's been exciting to bring our community, which is so passionate about connectivity, back together to discuss the opportunities we will have," celebrated John Hoffman, the CEO of the telecommunications employers' association that organises the event. More than 1,900 companies from around the world visited the seven pavilions occupied by the fair this week, one fewer before the pandemic. "The momentum was palpable in the air. I can't wait to see what we'll achieve next year," said Mats Granryd, the fair's managing director.

The event started on Monday in a strange atmosphere due to the war in Ukraine, and the organisers cancelled the Russian pavilion because of the attacks. Nevertheless, some Russian companies still took part. On other days, there were repeated demonstrations of solidarity with Ukraine during presentations and also small-scale protests by a group of Ukrainians at the gates to give visibility to the war conflict.

The assessment has been equally optimistic on the part of MWC's major Barcelona partner, Fira. The Fair's general director, Constantí Serrallonga, remarked that the figures "have exceeded expectations" – between 40,000 and 60,000 congress attendees were expected – and noted "the very high level of participation and quality" of the meetings that took place during these days. "Over 60,000 visitors is a figure we did not dream of a few months ago. Barcelona is back on the world map," he said, noting that the congress marks a return to normality and the resumption of enthusiasm. In fact, he pointed out that this "success" closes a circle: MWC was the first large-scale event to be cancelled due to the coronavirus. "We have always thought it would be possible," he said, despite the evolution of the pandemic during the Omicron variant and some companies pulling out.

On the future of the event in Catalonia beyond 2024, when the contract with GSMA ends, Serrallonga was "calm" after seeing organisers' "satisfaction" at the end this edition. The executive recalled that they take it a year at time and that "MWC has been in Barcelona since 2006 and together we have grown and learned". "The best test is to make every year the best possible edition," he said.