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Record-Breaking Year for European Cities


This Just In

European cities lead the world in terms of the number of association meetings held on the continent, according to ICCA’s 2017 report.

The 2017 ICCA country and city rankings report shows another record-breaking year for the global association meetings market, with European cities posting gains.

According to ICCA’s just-released report, 12,558 rotating international association meetings took place in 2017, up by 346 meetings over 2016. This is the highest annual figure ICCA has ever recorded.

The top association meeting city was Barcelona, while the top country was the United States.

The report’s scope is limited to 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.

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

As association meeting destinations, European cities outperform the rest of the world by a large margin: Barcelona claimed the top city spot but there are 14 European cities in all in the list of top 20 locations, according to the report. Europe as a whole hosted 48 percent of the association meetings that took place last year, according to the report. On the country list, leader U.S.A., which hosted 941 meetings, is followed by Germany and the U.K.

Table 1: Top 20 city ranking by number of meetings organised in 2017

RankCity# Meetings
1Barcelona195
2Paris190
Vienna190
4Berlin185
5London177
6Singapore160
7Madrid153
8Prague151
9Lisbon149
10Seoul142
11Buenos Aires131
12Budapest128
13Hong Kong119
14Dublin117
15Copenhagen115
16Amsterdam112
17Bangkok110
18Tokyo101
19Stockholm97
20Montreal, QC96
Rome96

The top five 2017 cities remained the same as they have done since 2015, but Barcelona surpassed the usual first and second place holders, Paris and Vienna, to claim the top spot. The Spanish city took first place for the first time since 2004. Vienna held on to its previous position in a tie for second place with Paris, the top city in 2016. Amsterdam dropped out of the top 10 to 16th place, while Prague climbed three spots to eighth place.

“Europe’s success at hosting association meetings is in principle due to the huge number of European associations, with the majority holding their meetings close to home,” said Christoph Tessmar, director of Barcelona Convention Bureau. “However, they would be forced to go further afield if it were not for high- quality congress and convention centres and Europe’s great congress cities.

“Barcelona has been in the top five in the ICCA ranking for cities since 2001 and achieving first place for 2017 is the result of very hard work by committed professionals in all areas of event delivery across the city.”

Barcelona is not the only city celebrating success. Also notable on the list are Buenos Aires, jumping from 17th to 11th place; Budapest, rising from 16th to 12th; and Hong Kong, elevated from the 19th to 13th spot. Newcomers to the top 20 in 2017 were Tokyo and Montreal.

Table 2: Top 20 country rankings by number of meetings organised in 2017

RankCountry# Meetings
1U.S.A.941
2Germany682
3United Kingdom592
4Spain564
5Italy515
6France506
7Japan414
8China P.R.376
9Canada360
10Netherlands307
11Portugal298
12Austria281
13South Korea279
14Australia258
15Sweden255
16Brazil237
17Switzerland230
18Poland216
19Belgium208
20Denmark203

On the country side, the U.S. has held the top position for the past two decades. France, meanwhile, exited the top five in 2017 and dropped to sixth place, while Spain and Italy each rose one place to fourth and fifth respectively. Portugal dropped out of shared 10th place to 11th in 2017 and despite the success of Buenos Aires, Argentina overall fell two spots to 21st place. Denmark, meanwhile, entered the top 20 in 20th place.

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