Austin City's local government has canceled this year's South by Southwest (SXSW) conference amid growing concerns over coronavirus. SXSW 2020, initially set to take place from March 13 until March 22, is the latest major annual event to be dropped due to the virus' serious health risks.
The city government's move marks the first time that SXSW will skip its annual gathering after 34 years. The event's organizer says in a notice that it will, instead, hold an online conference for attendees beginning with SXSW EDU, which is dedicated to advancing the teaching and learning experiences. A new schedule for the gathering is expected to be announced in the future.
It also deals a major blow to the city's economy, with the event regularly contributing hundreds of millions of dollars for Austin. Last year alone, SXSW made $355.9 million in profits for the city. In a statement, the organizer says:
"We understand the gravity of the situation for all the creatives who utilize SXSW to accelerate their careers; for the global businesses; and for Austin and the hundreds of small businesses – venues, theatres, vendors, production companies, service industry staff, and other partners that rely so heavily on the increased business that SXSW attracts."