Photo Credit: AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 15: Atmosphere during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festival at Auditorium Shores on March 15, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Austin Cancels SXSW Festival Amid Worldwide Coronavirus Outbreak
For the last 34 years, tens of thousands of travelers from all over the world flock to Austin, Texas for South by Southwest— the annual tech, film, and music conference. On Friday, it was announced by festival organizers that, for the first time ever, the conference would be canceled.
Due to the worldwide Coronavirus outbreak, brands like Facebook and Tik Tok pulled out of the March 13-22 event due to their own company travel bans. City officials thought it would best that the festival follows suit and cancels as a precautionary measure.
“We are devastated to share this news with you,” a statement said on the event’s website. “The show must go on” is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.”
While there are no confirmed cases in Austin, a Change.org petition asking conference organizers to cancel the conference, calling proceeding with plans “irresponsible,” had received more than 40,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.
Over 70,000 people were expected to attend, based on 2019’s attendance numbers, many of them coming from outside the United States.
“We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU,” the website said. “For our registrants, clients, and participants we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ.”