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How is Barcelona coping with the loss of World Mobile Congress?

How is Barcelona coping with the loss of World Mobile Congress?
Copyright Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reservedEmilio Morenatti
Copyright Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
By Pablo Ramiro
Published on
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It's worth €500 million to Barcelona every year. So how are businesses managing without it?


When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

It's the make-the-best-of-life proverb that must have been ringing in the ears of at least one supplier to the Mobile World Congress (MWC), which was scrapped earlier this month over fears it would help spread the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Vivers Barri, a nursery near Barcelona that was to supply indoor plants to MWC, had to make the best of a bad situation. 

The wholesaler, which normally sells directly to retail outlets, held a special sale where members of the public could buy their excess stock. 

A thousand people turned up and Salvador Barri, manager of the nursery, finds it difficult to conceal his happiness, opening his office with a smile on his face.

"What we have been able to collect mitigates the losses a little, we have recovered 10% of the investment," he said.

With that 10%, he says, they can have a little liquidity and deal with the invoices they have to face after the cancellation.

"There are losses that we will not be able to recover. But, well, the illusion of success that [the sale] has had sometimes fills you with satisfaction."

"The level of solidarity has been brutal," said Barri. "The idea was to make the sale on Saturday and Sunday morning, but the success was such that on the same Saturday in an hour and a half everything was sold."

But Vivers Barri was not the only victim of the congress' cancellation. 

The Catalan Taxi Drivers' Union estimates it cost Barcelona taxi drivers €4 million during those five days, with a reduction of between 30% and 40% in the volume of work. 

The National Association of Meat Cold Stores and Quartering Rooms, which represents 250 small businesses in the sector, is studying the extent of losses caused by the cancellation. It is considering asking for compensation.

Its president, José Frigols, told Euronews suppliers would be able to sell the majority of the meat destined for the congress, but that they estimate around 20 to 25 per cent will have to be thrown away. 

MWC brings in around €500 million for Barcelona each year and helps to generate about 14,000 temporary jobs.

The city council and traders have created Barcelona Opportunity Week, a bid to promote Barcelona and make up for the losses.

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