London and the UK move up new ICCA rankings

London has moved up a place to fifth in the latest edition of global rankings for hosting association events published by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA)

While Berlin has taken the top spot from Paris in the new rankings released today, London’s latest rise, signifies good consolidation of progress since it occupied 19th position in 2011.

The capital reports a 27% increase in the number of delegates attending conferences over the last year with more than 117,000 arriving in 2015, making the city number two for attendance.

High-profile association events last year included the European Society of Cardiology congress, which took place over five days and was attended by 32,773 delegates, a record for the annual event.

2015 also saw the European Federation of Periodontology take place at Excel London, which was attended by 9,700 delegates over three days, an uplift of 25% compared to the previous year.

Over the past five years London’s Convention Bureau (CVB), operated by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s promotional company, has been transformed from a venue finding service to event solution provider showcasing London’s areas of expertise as a way to achieve greater return on investment, and Tracy Halliwell, MBE, director of business tourism and major events at London & Partners said: “Today’s figures are a great Olympic legacy and confirmation of what we’ve known for years, that London is rightly one of the world’s most attractive destinations for event organisers. We have an unrivalled mix of venues, connectivity and infrastructure with more exciting developments in the pipeline including new hotels and the completion of the new Crossrail in 2019.”

ICCA captured a record number of 12,076 rotating international association meetings taking place in 2015; the largest number of association meetings collected in the year after the meetings took place ever, and 571 additional meetings compared to 2014.

These numbers reconfirm the consistent growth pattern in the association meetings market as identified in ICCA’s 50-year report (publicly available on

The ICCA Association Database now includes 20,000 regularly occurring meeting series, 220,000 meeting editions and 11,500 international associations.

Even though the order is quite different, the top seven cities are made up of the same ones as last year.

Istanbul climbs a place to eighth, while Lisbon and Copenhagen are newcomers in the top 10.

In the city rankings, it seems the ‘winners’ are the cities with the fewest losses, or with a very small growth; new number one city Berlin has only two more meetings compared to 2014, while Paris has 28 meetings fewer than in 2014, Vienna has 24 and Madrid 29 fewer. Barcelona is two down and London is five up.

Since the total number of meetings in 2015 has increased, this means that the meetings are more equally spread out among destinations, and relatively smaller, second tier destinations are becoming more and more successful at attracting association meetings.

In the country rankings, the UK climbs one place to No.3, behind perennial leaders the USA and Germany. The UK hosted 582 qualifying meetings in 2015, 39 up on the year.

As one of the very few reports which compares destinations’ meetings-related performance on a global scale, the annual ICCA rankings are one of the most eagerly anticipated industry publications.

Due to lack of global figures on other meeting segments, they are often mistakenly perceived as the destination rankings for the meetings industry as a whole, even though they only cover a narrow segment of the total meetings market: to be included, meetings must be organised by associations, must be held on a regular basis, have at least 50 delegates, and rotate between at least three countries.

While these ICCA rankings provide some evidence of a city or country’s relative performance, it is only when all data on all the meetings taking place in a destination are considered – corporate, intergovernmental, non-rotating, etc – that a true, complete picture can be seen.

ICCA CEO Martin Sirk commented on the results: “In an uncertain world with ever increasing business disruption, the stability and continuing long-term growth of international association meetings are encouraging more and more suppliers and destinations to include this market segment in their mix of business. What also remains true is that these are the most complex and long-lead-time meetings to win, requiring excellent research and targeting, top class bidding and presentation skills, and patience.

“It’s always risky to draw conclusions from a single year’s data, but it appears that competition is getting tougher for the traditional market leaders, with faster growth outside the top 10 positions. This might also reflect a trend we are hearing anecdotally, as many of the top destinations are starting to create their own international meetings, rather than simply bidding for traditional association meetings whenever rotation patterns allow, and these new meetings don’t appear in our data, since they don’t usually rotate between countries.”

The full ICCA statistics reports are available to ICCA members in its online Destination Comparison Tool.

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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