ICCA’s 2018 Meetings Market City and Country Rankings Released


Event Africa Contributor July 11, 2019 Industry Statistics
ICCA Stats Report City and Country Rankings Association Meetings

ICCA has presented an alternative perspective on the growth of the association meetings market, in their latest report available HERE.


ICCA Stats Report City and Country Rankings Association Meetings

ICCA has published their country and city rankings by estimated total number of participants as part of its public abstract of the 2018 Statistics Report. As expect from the 2017 trends, Barcelona and the USA have taken the top spots in the rankings.

The global meetings industry trade association calculates the estimated total number of participants by multiplying the average number of participants per meeting by the total number of meetings in the same destination.

Because of this, when analysing destinations based on the estimated number of participants instead of the number of meetings, the rankings can present different results.

READ MORE: AIPC, ICCA and UFI Launch Global Alliance effort

2018 City rankings: Barcelona hosts most delegates despite fewer number of meetings

In 2018, Barcelona became the number one city, despite the fact that the destination hosted 49 events less than Paris, the number one city by number of meetings. Barcelona simply hosted larger and bigger events.

Paris and Vienna, first and second in the ranking by number of meetings, came second and third in their average number of participants.

Berlin takes fifth place to coincide with their ranking by number of meetings.

One particular example that demonstrates how the number of participants presents a differing view of the market comes from Munich.

In 2018, the city, which came in at 35th place by the number of meetings, jumps from 87th in 2017 to fourth place in 2018 by estimated total of participants – an impressive 93,444.

This is due to the fact the city hosted two major medical conferences in 2018:

the Congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) with 32,858 participants, and the Congress of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) with 27,700 participants.

Table 1: City ranking by estimated total number of participants in 2018

Rank City 2018
1 Barcelona 134,838
2 Paris 126,243
3 Vienna 104,775
4 Munich 93,443
5 Berlin 87,623
6 Amsterdam 85,549
7 Toronto, ON 84,600
8 Copenhagen 80,618
9 Madrid 71,885
10 Singapore 69,261
11 Lisbon 67,382
12 Buenos Aires 60,848
13 Seoul 58,996
14 London 54,788
15 Montreal, QC 54,122
16 Bangkok 53,668
17 Dublin 51,313
18 Tokyo 48,787
19 Sydney, NSW 48,272
20 Hong Kong 47,630

2018 Country/Territory rankings: U.S.A. remains in the top spot

The USA remains in the top country spot with an estimated total of 384,035 participants hosted in 2018.

Spain and Germany swapped places compared to the rankings by number of meetings, with Spain in second place and Germany in third.

France also remains in fourth, as with the ranking by number of meetings.

Canada, 10th in the ranking by number of meetings, enters the top 5 by estimated total number of participants, jumping from 168,000 to 203,000 participants in 2018, at an increase of 20% compared to 2017.

Table 2: Country/Territory rankings by estimated total number of participants in 2018

Rank Country/Territory 2018
1 U.S.A. 384,035
2 Spain 296,825
3 Germany 293,337
4 France 241,044
5 Canada 203,429
6 United Kingdom 181,149
7 Italy 168,578
8 Japan 168,248
9 Netherlands 149,513
10 China-P.R. 146,982
11 Austria 120,981
12 Australia 116,000
13 Portugal 113,154
14 Brazil 106,045
15 Republic of Korea 105,084
16 Argentina 95,632
17 Denmark 91,975
18 Sweden 83,796
19 Switzerland 75,640
20 Belgium 72,846

Global association meeting trends

According to ICCA Statistics released in 2013, between 1963 and 2013, the number of international association meetings doubled every 10 years.  ICCA’s latest industry report on the 55-year growth of the international association meetings market confirmed that this exponential growth trend has now slowly transcended into a more mature, yet still solid, growth pattern between 2013 and 2017.

The 2018 figures seem to confirm this trend.

ICCA’s statistics provide an extensive picture of how the association meetings sector is continuing to diversify, especially in terms of regional rotation area and regional popularity for hosting business events. In keeping with tradition, Europe remains by far the most popular region for association meetings, but Asia-Pacific and the Middle East are rapidly increasing their share of the market.

Unsurprisingly, Medical Science (16.9%), Technology (14.2%) and Science (13.5%) are the three most popular international association meeting topics.

September remains the most popular month for organising international association meetings.

In another strong indication of healthy market growth, the average total expenditure at all international meetings in the ICCA Association Database has increased by a promising 4% in 2018, from 10.6 billion EUR in 2017 to over 11 billion EUR in 2018.

Association meetings facing new challenges

Senthil Gopinath, ICCA Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our industry is facing challenges from saturation, consolidation and new entrants, to erosion of traditional business models and fragmentation. There are also great opportunities, including market growth, disruptive innovation, digitisation, new players, less market barriers, new audiences and new scalable models. Alongside all these developments, the number of events is continuing to grow exponentially.

The most respected global comparison of destination performance in attracting international meetings, our annual statistics reports are highly anticipated by the meetings industry. They continue to provide a unique overview which encompasses – and simultaneously celebrates – the global growth of association meetings, a sector which is only set to soar in strength, influence and progress.”

READ MORE: ICCA Appoints Senthil Gopinath as New CEO with Immediate Effect

Whilst the most comprehensive and highly-respected global destination performance indicator for the association sector, ICCA rankings are often mistakenly perceived as the destination rankings for the meetings industry as a whole, even though they only represent a niche market segment.

Only those meetings that meet ICCA’s stringent assessment criteria – rotating between at least three countries, have a proven attendance of at least 50 participants, and are held on a regular basis – are recorded within the global association’s annual statistics.


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