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Barcelona tops ICCA rankings in record year for meetings

Spanish city overtakes Paris and Vienna at top for first time since 2004 as ICCA records highest ever annual figure

Pictured: Barcelona took top spot in the city rankings for the first time since 2004

Barcelona has overtaken Paris and Vienna to claim first place in the ICCA city rankings by number of meetings in 2017 for the first time since 2004 – and the association meetings market continues to show robust growth.

ICCA captured a record number of 12,558 rotating international association meetings taking place in 2017, with 346 additional meetings taking place 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.

ICCA CEO Martin Sirk said: “In a world of disruption and unpredictability, the continuing growth in international association meetings is a welcome anomaly, but is not that surprising. 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.”

ICCA identified a 50-year trend of exponential growth in the number of international association meetings: the number of these meetings doubled every 10 years. In the last 5–10 years, this exponential growth seems to slowly transcend into a more mature, but still solid, growth pattern.

The cities in this year’s top five remain the same as they have done since 2015, but Barcelona surpasses regular first and second place holders Paris and Vienna to claim the top spot. 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.

Commenting on the news that London retained fifth position in this year's ICCA rankings, Tracy Halliwell, director of tourism, conventions  and major events at London & Partners, said: “It is fantastic news and a great testament to the hard work of the London Convention Bureau team that London has retained fifth spot in the ICCA rankings for the third consecutive year. With a number of extraordinary events lined up, including the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2021, I am confident London will remain a top destination for event planners all over the world.”

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, the US remains in the number one position with 941 meetings, seven more than reported at this time in 2016. The cities in the top three have not changed, with Germany and United Kingdom remaining in second and third place after the US’s first. France exits the top five and drops to sixth place with the rise of Spain and Italy one place to fourth and fifth, and Japan retains seventh place for a second year running. China drops one place to eighth. Portugal drops out of shared 10th place to 11th in 2017. Argentina falls two spots to 21st place and Denmark enters the top 20 at 20th place.

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