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ICCA rankings: Istanbul’s popularity collapses as Paris stays top

City no longer in top tier of international meeting destinations

Istanbul: a bridge too far for associations?

Istanbul has fallen 31 places in the 2016 ICCA city rankings for international association meetings.

The beleaguered city - until now a regular fixture in the Top 10 - hosted just 62 meetings matching ICCA's criteria last year, compared with 148 in 2015, as associations looked elsewhere. 

Eighth last year, the city is now in joint 39th place, alongside Cape Town.

A string of terrorist attacks, a failed military coup, reports of mass purges, and what many see as a power grab by President Erdogan, appear to have damaged the credibility of the country as a whole.

Turkey, 18th spot in 2015, now lies in 37th place, having hosted 103 meetings compared to 211.

Responding to the lastest rankings,Hicran Ozbuk, general manager of Istanbul CVB,  said: "All the testimonials that we collected during the congresses in Istanbul have been highly positive and supportive. I would like to thank the international associations and organizers for their support and would also like to underline how delighted we are to welcome their congresses in our city.  As Istanbul CVB, we are fully aware that the challenging situation for Istanbul is temporary and we will bounce back. In addition, we are continuing our efforts with high motivation to make Istanbul one of the leading destinations for international conventions, and a meeting point offering a unique experience for its guests."

Meanwhile European cities continued to dominate.

Paris reclaimed top spot, with Vienna in second place. Barcelona came third and Berlin fourth. Meanwhile post-Brexit London held on to fifth spot, despite hosting 18 fewer meetings.

The highest-ranked non-European cities were Singapore in sixth and Seoul in 10th.

The USA, Germany, UK, France, and Spain made up the top-five countries, in that order.

Moreover the statistics indicate that the number of international association meetings continues to double every ten years.  ICCA captured 12,212 rotating international association meetings taking place in 2016, an all-time record and 136 more than in 2015.

ICCA CEO Martin Sirk said: “Once again our report provides clear evidence of the resilience and long-term continued growth of the international association meetings sector.  Anecdotally, we hear that it is not just the traditional association meetings business that is in a healthy state: new association-type events are being created by groups of scientists and doctors, destinations are designing and hosting their own world-class STEM meetings and festivals (science, technology, engineering, maths), online discussions are migrating to the real world of concrete face-to-face interactions, and even corporate events are evolving into community gatherings of suppliers, clients, partners, investors, users, and academics, blurring the lines between the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.  The Information Revolution and Knowledge Economy are experiencing continuing exponential growth, so it’s hardly surprising that the entire association meetings community is responding in such a dynamic fashion.  Traditional association meetings are growing strongly, but they are definitely no longer the only game in town.”


Every year crunches the numbers on an ‘alternative ICCA ranking’ based on a minimum attendance of 300 delegates and 500 delegates, as opposed to ICCA’s minimum attendance of 50 delegates.

In both scenarios Vienna, the Austrian capital, is the big winner, topping the rankings with 75 meetings and 53 meetings respectively, while Paris, top in the official rankings, slips to fifth place for meetings over 300 and ninth place for meetings attracting more than 500 delegates.

In the country rankings the USA still prevails, regardless of the size of the meetings, and there is little change in the top 10 for either ranking.

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