Individuals are also dropping out. Alexander Taub, the CEO of Upstream, decided to cancel his travel plans because he was worried about contracting the virus. “I’ve been going for almost a decade and love it. But with the coronavirus about to go supernova – it’s just not worth it,” Taub wrote to Quartz. 

Shutting down SXSW will be a massive loss to Austin’s local economy, as Texas Monthly noted. Last year, SXSW had a $355.9 million economic impact on the city of Austin. Outside of monetary losses, the loss to the many startups, bands, and independent film products that hedge their bets on SXSW exposure is incalculable. Over 300 films are scheduled to screen at SXSW this year, many of which will be world or North American premieres. Up and coming bands often use the event to connect with booking agents or record labels. 

The refusal of SXSW to cancel has drawn some criticism. The hashtag #cancelsxsw has gained some traction on Twitter, and a petition to cancel the event has gathered more than 30,000 signatures. But that opposition is still a small fraction of the thousands of speakers, companies, and fans who still plan to make the trip to Austin.

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