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Association meetings continue to show robust growth: ICCA

Record year of association meetings sees Barcelona top city rankings while the Asian market remains stable.

In another successful year for the association meetings industry, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) has captured a record number of 12,558 international association meetings in 2017 – with 346 additional meetings compared to 2016. This is the highest annual figure that ICCA has ever recorded in its yearly analysis of the immediate past year’s meetings data.

“In a world of disruption and unpredictability, the continuing growth in international association meetings is a welcome anomaly, but is not that surprising,” ICCA CEO, Martin Sirk, says. “We are still in a period of revolutionary change in terms of scientific and technological advancements, which are transforming traditional association fields such as healthcare and trade.

“To make sense of the tsunami of new data and information, association communities need to meet. Not just at their traditional, well-established meetings, but in new gatherings specifically invented to serve new academic fields or to reach out to new audiences. These are the pressures that we believe will continue to boost the sector for many years to come.”

City and country rankings

The cities in this year’s top 5 remain unchanged since 2015, but Barcelona surpasses regular first and second-place holders Paris and Vienna to claim the top spot. Taking first place for the first time since 2004 with 195 meetings in 2017, Barcelona knocks last year’s number one Paris down to second place. Vienna holds its previous position in joint second place with Paris, and Berlin and London are placed in fourth and fifth. Madrid stays in seventh place for another year, and last year’s other number seven, Amsterdam, drops out of the top 10 to 16th place, making way for Prague to climb three places to join the top 10 in eighth place. As in 2016, Singapore, Lisbon and Seoul remain in sixth, ninth and 10th place respectively.

Notable risers are Buenos Aires, jumping from 17th to 11th place, Budapest, jumping from 16th to 12th, and Hong Kong, jumping from 19th to 13th. Rome remains in 20th place for another year. Newcomers to the top 20 in 2017 are Tokyo and Montreal.

Top 20 city ranking by number of meetings organised in 2017:

Rank City # Meetings
1 Barcelona 195
2 Paris 190
3 Vienna 190
4 Berlin 185
5 London 177
6 Singapore 160
7 Madrid 153
8 Prague 151
9 Lisbon 149
10 Seoul 142
11 Buenos Aires 131
12 Budapest 128
13 Hong Kong 119
14 Dublin 117
15 Copenhagen 115
16 Amsterdam 112
17 Bangkok 110
18 Tokyo 101
19 Stockholm 97
20 Montreal, QC 96
21 Rome 96

Since 2016 there has not been much change in the top 10 country rankings, apart from a minor shift in positioning. As it has done for the past two decades, U.S.A. remains in the number one position with 941 meetings, 7 more than reported at this time in 2016.

Top 20 country rankings by number of meetings organised in 2017:

Rank Country # Meetings
1 U.S.A. 941
2 Germany 682
3 United Kingdom 592
4 Spain 564
5 Italy 515
6 France 506
7 Japan 414
8 China P.R. 376
9 Canada 360
10 Netherlands 307
11 Portugal 298
12 Austria 281
13 Republic of Korea 279
14 Australia 258
15 Sweden 255
16 Brazil 237
17 Switzerland 230
18 Poland 216
19 Belgium 208
20 Denmark 203

The annual ICCA country and city rankings report only includes international association meetings that rotate between at least three countries, have a proven attendance of at least 50 participants, and are held on a regular basis. The ICCA rankings should thus not be mistaken as providing an overview of the entire meetings industry.