Spain taps loophole to entice attendees to MWC21 in Barcelona

Fira Barcelona ISE
The designation as "highly qualified workers" will allow entry to registrants from many countries outside the EU. (Fira Barcelona)

The government of Spain is trying to help GSMA pull off its in-person Mobile World Congress event this summer. The event is an important contributor to the economy of Barcelona.

Spain is currently denying entry to people from countries outside the European Union. But exceptions to this policy apply to specific groups of people, including “highly qualified workers.” The Spanish government has now decreed that MWC21 Barcelona registrants fall in this category.

The Ministry of the Interior of the Government of Spain will allow all MWC21 Barcelona registrants – including exhibitors, attendees and sponsors – to enter Spain to attend the in-person event.

The GSMA is working with Spanish visa and border control officials to make sure MWC attendees don’t have problems entering the country. The designation as "highly qualified workers" will allow entry to registrants from many countries outside the EU, including those from China and the U.S.

Individuals participating in the event from outside the EU and Schengen Area of Europe must follow specific procedures. And all international visitors should check to make sure they’re not coming from “high-risk Covid-19 countries” as determined by the Spanish government.

John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA, said in a statement, "This decision is a resounding vote of confidence in the careful planning undertaken to date and our strong partnership with the Host City Parties. We will continue to work closely with our partners to deliver a safe and enjoyable experience.”

Of course, many people will choose not to attend the in-person event, so the GSMA is offering a hybrid experience where people will also be able to attend virtual events in parallel to the onsite activities.

A number of big-name vendors have already said they will not come to Barcelona. This group includes Ericsson, Nokia, Cisco and Intel.

On the operator side, BT has pulled out of the event. The big U.S. carriers are remaining mum on the topic, so far.

RELATED: Who’s in, who’s out for MWC21 in Barcelona?

Cloud players at MWC21

Consultant Danielle Royston, who runs her own company TelcoDR, has purchased the entire 65,000 square feet of floorspace at Mobile World Congress that Ericsson has vacated in Hall 2. In March she announced that she plans to host a “Cloud City” in the space, populated with cloud vendors.

RELATED: Consultant buys Ericsson’s MWC floorspace to host ‘cloud city’

But since then, a couple of big cloud players have said they’re not attending. Those include Google, Microsoft and Oracle.