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London retains top spot in CWT rankings

But CWT Meetings & Events warns UK will lose business to Paris if tighter border controls lead to queues at airports post-Brexit - especially from Asia

Pictured: Despite Brexit negotiations causing uncertainty, the popularity of London as a destination is undiminished for now

London has retained its position as the top EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) destination for corporate meetings and events in 2019, according to the latest research by CWT Meetings & Events.

The ranking is based on data in Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s 2019 Meetings & Events Future Trends report. The 2019 forecast is as follows (2018 positions in brackets):

1. London, UK (1/1)
2. Moscow, Russia (6/-)
3. Barcelona, Spain (5/2)
4. Berlin, Germany (8/3)
5. Hamburg, Germany (-/-)
6. Vienna, Austria (-/-)
7. Stockholm, Sweden (-/-)
8. Cologne, Germany (10/-)
9. Paris, France (2/5)
10. Frankfurt, Germany (-/7)

The 2019 ranking shows four new entries: Vienna in Austria (6), Stockholm in Sweden (7), and Germany’s Hamburg (5) and Frankfurt (-/7), returning to the top 10 ranking after dropping out in 2018. Meanwhile, Madrid (9/6) is off the 2019 list, too.

“Border control in the UK is a concern post-Brexit if tighter measures lead to longer queues at airports,” said Ian Cummings, vice president, EMEA at CWT Meetings & Events. “Paris will start taking business from the UK if it becomes tricky for attendees to come into the country – especially from Asia.”

Despite ongoing Brexit negotiations for the UK to leave the European Union casting uncertainty over how the deal will play out for airlines, visas and border control, the popularity of London as a destination is undiminished for now.

Russia’s hosting of the FIFA Men's World Cup 2018 is likely to have boosted the appeal of Moscow as a meetings and events destination. Meanwhile, Paris, Barcelona and Berlin remain popular.

Across EMEA, cost per attendee per day is predicted to increase by 6 per cent in 2019, to an average of US$255.

In the Eurozone, inflation hit 2.1 per cent in July, according to the European Commission’s statistics bureau, Eurostat, above the European Central Bank’s target of below 2 per cent, while in the UK the Bank of England has raised interest rates for only the second time in a decade.

The World Bank Group’s latest Middle East and North Africa Economic Monitor projects regional growth to increase to 3.1 per cent in 2018, up from 2 per cent in 2017, and hold firm through 2019 and 2020. The increase in growth is expected to be driven by a favourable global economic environment, stability in the oil market at slightly higher prices, and post-conflict reconstruction.

While safety and security are always a priority when planning any meetings and events, it seems the terrorist attacks in the UK, Germany, Spain and France in 2016 and 2017 have not significantly dampened demand in London, Berlin, Barcelona and Paris.

Meanwhile, secondary UK cities like Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool continue to see growth. Non-traditional event venues such as sporting arenas are tapping into the income possibilities from meetings and events, offering greater choice for planners.

Greek destinations are doing well. There is a growing meetings demand for Athens, and many of the islands such as Mykonos have become hot incentive destinations and are now being positioned as an excellent alternative to Ibiza, the south of France and other popular Mediterranean destinations.

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