ICCA publishes 2018 city and country rankings by estimated total number of participants

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 comes in at 35th place by 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 U.S.A. remains in the top country spot with an estimated total of 384,035 participants hosted in 2018. Per this ranking, Spain and Germany swap 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 to mark the 50-year growth of the association sector, 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.”
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.
ICCA’s more extensive statistics are accessible to ICCA Members only via the Destination Comparison Tool, a business intelligence tool which allows ICCA members to analyse their market position and compare meetings data.
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