Calls To Cancel SXSW Intensify As Facebook, Twitter Pull Out, 30K Sign Petition
The pressure to cancel SXSW over coronavirus concerns intensified this week with Twitter and Facebook issuing corporate travel bans including the gathering set to begin on March 11 and run through March 22 in Austin, Texas.
“Twitter is implementing a mandatory global business travel restriction for our employees, effective immediately. This, unfortunately, includes SXSW,” Twitter said in a statement Monday.
30,000 Sign Petition
Almost 30,000 have signed a Change.org petition, saying that “having an event like this is irresponsible amid an outbreak.”
Hundreds of thousands flock to Austin for the event each year and its economic impact to the City of Austin was $355.9 million in 2019, according to an analysis by Greyhill Advisors and South by Southwest.
Despite the economic impact, some Austin business people are calling on SXSW organizers to cancel. “If you bring a half a million people together in Austin, you tremendously increase your chance of an untraceable corona outbreak,” said Garrett Wood, President and Founder of GetSales., an Austin startup.
SXSW Issues Statement
SXSW has said that the conference will continue
“SXSW is working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event,” the conference said in a statement Monday. “As a result of this dialogue and the recommendations of Austin Public Health, the 2020 event is proceeding with safety as a top priority.”
Cancellations & Corporate Travel Bans
“At this time, there are a handful of cancellations from participants who were traveling from China and Japan and there have been a few corporate travel bans,” according to SXSW. “Other than that, the cancellations are on par from past years.”
“We understand that some companies have instituted general corporate travel bans for staff,” the statement continued. “To our knowledge, only a handful have affected our event programming at this time, and we will update our schedule accordingly.”