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May 12, 2014

ICCA Releases New Rankings: USA Top Country, Paris Top City

ICCA has released its 2013 Top 20 Rankings for countries and cities around the world, and is reporting another year of continued strength in the international association meetings market.

11,685 regularly occurring association events which rotate between at least three countries were identified by ICCA members and ICCA’s in-house research team as having taken place during 2013, 535 more than identified a year previously.

“Our research has shown that the number of international association meetings has been on a long-term growth pattern for an extremely long time, in fact, doubling roughly every ten years," Martin Sirk, ICCA CEO (pictured right), told International Meetings Review, adding that ever since the global financial crisis hit in 2008, the numbers have been rising. 

"It’s no surprise to us that the overall figures for 2013 are showing a healthy increase over the numbers we identified for 2012 at this time last year," he added. "Individual cities and countries will inevitably have short-term ups and downs, but because decision-making for this sector is such a long time-frame business (often bids are won three to six years before the event takes place!), so we believe that long-term performance makes more sense for the destinations to focus on."  

Still, Sirk added, ICCA's data only covers a relatively small sector of the meetings market. "Destinations [that] have specifically targeted other sectors—such as corporate meetings or trade shows—might be far more successful in revenue terms than their ICCA rankings suggest," he added. "Finally, a few leading destinations are now starting to move beyond a bidding model to create more events that remain in their cities, or to successfully propose multi-year contracts to associations whose events might previously have rotated, and these events don’t appear in the ICCA figures. Barcelona, Vienna and Singapore, to give just three examples, are all aggressively chasing non-rotating large-scale events."

2013 Top 10 Countries: Small Changes

The top 10 country ranking is made up of the same countries as last year, but some countries switched places. The U.S.A., Germany and Spain remain respectively first,  second and third.  The gap between the U.S.A. and Germany has become significantly smaller though; from a difference of 184 meetings in 2012 to 107 in 2013. France and United Kingdom have switched places: France is now fourth and the United Kingdom 5th. Italy remains in sixth place, while Japan had climbed one place to number 7 and China-P.R. climbs two places to number 8, at the cost of Brazil, dropping from seventh to ninth place, and The Netherlands, dropping one place to number 10.

2013 Top 10 Cities: Paris New Number One

Vienna, which has been the top city in the ICCA rankings each year since 2005, lost its first place to Paris, which was second last year and previously shared first place with Vienna in 2008. Madrid, which was fourth in 2012, has moved up to second place while Vienna dropped to third. 

Barcelona climbed one place to fourth and Berlin moved from third to fifth place. Singapore remains at sixth and London fell from a shared sixth place to seventh. Istanbul climbed one place to 8th and Lisbon and Seoul, both newcomers in the top 10, share ninth place.


A total of 722 international association conferences were hosted in Germany, 11.2 percent more than last year. This total narrows the gap with the United States, which remains out in front with 829 conferences (down 0.5 percent from 2012). Meanwhile, Germany has extended its substantial lead over third-place Spain which hosted 562 conferences or 2.2 percent more than last year.Germany cities also fared exceptionally well in ICCA’s worldwide and European city rankings. Berlin remained in the top five on both lists, hosting 178 international association conferences in 2013, up six, or 3.5 percent, from the previous year. Other German cities landing in the top 100 for Europe include Munich, Hamburg, Dresden, Leipzig, Frankfurt, Cologne, Aachen, Bonn, Dusseldorf and Heidelberg.  In total, more than 30 German cities made the ICCA rankings in 2013.

A strong range of industry associations select Germany as their meeting destination.  In 2013, about a third of the conventions was in the technology and innovation sector; another quarter was in medicine and health. Other leading industries included energy and environment, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, financial services, and transportation and logistics.Among Berlin’s conferences last year, for example, were the 23rd European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) and the 21st United European Gastroenterology Week (UEG Week). Hamburg hosted more than 22,624 attendees at the 96th international meeting of Lions Clubs International and Frankfurt welcomed the European Offshore Wind Conference and Exhibition (EWEA).

"The international association meetings sector is a solid, reliable performer, in good times and bad, and the longer term trends are the most critically important factors when preparing strategic plans and investment decisions," Sirk said in a statement. "I am convinced that every serious meetings destination, internationally ambitious venue, and forward-thinking meetings management company should include international associations in their marketing and development strategies.”  

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