New ICCA rankings released: Paris knocks Berlin off No.1 spot

Paris has reclaimed the top spot in the latest International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) 2016 City Rankings announced today, 8 May. The French capital returns to pole position, last held in 2014, and knocks Berlin off the top spot.

Vienna climbs two places to second and Barcelona remains third. Berlin drops to fourth, while London is again fifth.

Singapore is the first Asian city again and moves up one place overall, from seventh to sixth.

Madrid drops two places from a shared fifth in 2015 to a shared seventh in 2016. Newcomers in the top 10 compared to last year are Amsterdam, 12th last year and now sharing seventh place with Madrid, and Seoul jumping from 13th to tenth. Like last year, Lisbon is ninth.

Commenting on the the rankings, Suzanne Singleton, head of associations at London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional agency and CVB for London, said: “The ICCA rankings are a key indicator of a city’s success in the meetings and events sector and we are very proud that London has maintained its position in the top 5. This result highlights the important collaboration with our partners across the city.”

London is set to welcome a number of international congresses, such as the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in October and the International Association for Dental Research next year.

Last year the city hosted major congresses, including the European League Against Rheumatology’s and the European Respiratory Society’s which, combined, drew in tens of thousands of delegates. In 2015, the European Cardiology Society – one of the world’s biggest congresses – came to the city, bringing over 32,700 delegates.

In March this year the European Association of Urology hosted a record-breaking congress at ExCeL London and in July the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference comes to the capital.

Edinburgh moved up eight places to 27 in the new City Rankings – the highest ICCA ranking for Edinburgh in a decade. Scotland’s capital hosted 76 ICCA recognised meetings in 2016, equating to over £35m in economic impact for the city.

High-profile conferences that took place in Edinburgh in 2016 included: Autism-Europe Congress, International Society of Applied Ethology Congress, SPIE Astronomical Telescopes & Instrumentation and the Congress of the European Society of Agronomy. 

Edinburgh’s Ambassador Programme, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, continues to play a significant role in the city’s ongoing success in winning competitive bids.

ICCA also announced an all-time record number of association meetings in 2016. The association captured 12,212 rotating international association meetings taking place in 2016, an all-time record for ICCA’s annual snapshot of immediate past year’s meetings data, and representing 136 additional meetings compared to 2015.

Association meetings recorded by ICCA went from just under 6,000 in 2006 to over 12,000 in 2016. This means that the trend of exponential growth, as identified in ICCA’s advocacy report ‘A modern history of international association meetings: 1963-2013’, published in 2013, continues to apply: The number of association meetings continues to double every decade.

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

Top 20 city ranking by number of meetings organised in 2016

1.   Paris – 196

2.   Vienna – 186

3.   Barcelona – 181

4.   Berlin – 176

5.   London -153

6.   Singapore – 151

7.   Amsterdam – 144

8.   Madrid -144

9.   Lisbon – 138

10 . Seoul – 137

In the ICCA 2016 Country Rankings the same 10 countries make up the top places, with some minor shifts and one newcomer on a shared 10th place.

The USA remains number one with 934 meetings in 2016, nine more than in 2015. Germany remains second and the UK third.

France and Spain swap places, with France now fourth and Spain fifth.

Italy and Japan remain sixth and seventh, while Japan now shares seventh place with China-P.R., which is climbing one place.

The Netherlands drops one place form shared eighth to ninth and Canada remains 10th but is now joined by Portugal, which was 12th last year.

Due to lack of global figures on other meeting segments, the annual ICCA rankings are often perceived as the destination rankings for the meetings industry as a whole, even though they only cover one segment of the total 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.

The association itself stresses that while the 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 really be seen.

ICCA advises its members to collect their own statistics on all meetings they organise, and provide a full picture on their performance. ICCA CEO Martin Sirk said: “Once again our report provides clear evidence of the resilience and long-term continued growth of the international association meetings sector. Anecdotally, we hear that it is not just the traditional association meetings business that is in a healthy state: new association-type events are being created by groups of scientists and doctors, destinations are designing and hosting their own worldclass STEM meetings and festivals (science, technology, engineering, maths), online discussions are migrating to the real world of concrete face-to-face interactions, and even corporate events are evolving into community gatherings of suppliers, clients, partners, investors, users, and academics, blurring the lines between the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.

“The Information Revolution and Knowledge Economy are experiencing continuing exponential growth, so it’s hardly surprising that the entire association meetings community is responding in such a dynamic fashion. Traditional association meetings are growing strongly, but they are definitely no longer the only game in town!”

The full ICCA statistics reports are available to ICCA members in its online Destination Comparison Tool. ICCA is advising destinations how to use the ICCA rankings in a blog post titled: ‘7 Ways NOT to use the ICCA rankings in your promotional activities’.

ICCA represents the main specialists in organising, transporting, and accommodating international meetings and events, and comprises over 1,000 member companies and organisations in almost 100 countries worldwide.

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Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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