montjuïc-nocheThe covid-10 pandemic slammed the lid down on the economic, commercial, social and cultural activities of our society. Factories, offices, hotels, technology centres, stores… they all had to close up. The same thing happened to trade fairs, those platforms for innovation and business contacts.

It was inevitable that the plans that Fira de Barcelona had prepared for 2020 would be affected, with major international events such as MWC Barcelona and Alimentaria as two of the most important. The impact of the pandemic has affected trade fair organizations around the world.

Trade fairs, by definition, involve people meeting, international travel and business tourism, and they all had to stop and reschedule their calendars to ensure that the safety of the people involved comes first, the workers, suppliers, organizers, visitors and exhibitors. What is more: Fira did not just stop its activities, but made an active commitment to fight against the coronavirus with the installation of a centre for vulnerable persons at its Montjuïc site, the Hospital Fira Salut in the Gran Via site and a number of supporting actions.

Since then, Fira de Barcelona has been working hard to restart its activity after summer. It is working to foresee the situation of what will surely be a whole new era for trade fairs, in accordance with the strongest safety and prevention measures eat the Montjuïc and Gran Via sites. It is looking ahead, especially to 2021.

Motor for recovery

The chairman of Fira’s Board of Admininstration, Pau Relat, said that “the institution will be part of the reactivation, with the aim, more than ever, to be a motor for all sectors of the economy, to promote business and support professionals, entrepreneurs and companies, working together with public and private initiatives to overcome the situation. This is why trade fairs are so important, as one of the main drivers of the economic and social recovery we so badly need”.

For its part, the CEO of Fira de Barcelona Constantí Serrallonga set out the institutions priorities in clear terms: “to get back to business in a safe and profitable environment for all those attending, with the objective that their presence at an event can help to relaunch their business and networking”, while underlining the importance of “the great variety of business sectors that take part in the events and the economic and social impact that Fira has on the region”.

The strategy adopted by Fira and the other operators who hold their events at the Montjuïc and Gran Via sites has been to postpone them until the last four months of the year or until 2021. Some events have gone ahead and been held virtually, as in the case of the Education and Future Fair, which became FiraCampusVirtual.

The last four months of the year will see events as important as the digital format of Valmont Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week, Bizbarcelona and the Employment Fair in hybrid formats, a forum about the future of the catering and hostelry sector, the Liber fair (in Spanish), Ocasión, Ibtm World, the leading business tourism event, and Smart City Live, organized by the Smart City Expo World Congress, which will virtually invite international experts and institutions to debate a topic as vital a that of the future challenges awaiting cities under Covid-19.

2021, year of revival

Next year, 2021, is going to be a particularly important year, with events like MWC Barcelona, which has guaranteed its presence at Fira at least until 2024, Alimentaria and Hostelco, the platform for food and the restaurant trade; the holding of the ISE salon for the first time, a leading fair for the audiovisual industry arriving from Amsterdam, and Seafood, the most important seafood fair which was held in Brussels. There will also be Automobile Barcelona, Barcelona Building Construmat, Expoquimia (with Eurosurfas and Equiplast), Hispack, IOT Solutions World Congress, The Boat Show and Piscina & Wellness Barcelona, among many other events.

2021 is taking shape as the year of revival and a step forward in business activity for Barcelona and the whole country. Fira is preparing for it as part of its mission to be an engine of social and economic progress and emphasising the value of cooperation between institutions and the public and private sectors to support our businesses and our productive economy.

R.P.