There have been a few changes in ICCA rankings in 2016. We profile some of the biggest.

The release by the International Congress & Convention Association of city and country rankings in terms of hosting international meetings doesn’t seem to change a whole lot. The U.S. is always way out in front followed by Germany, the UK and France.

The most notable between 2016 and 2015 has been Turkey which has dropped a staggering 19 places – from a high of 18th position in 2015 to 37th position in 2016.

On the following pages we profile some of the biggest shifts of cities in the rankings list and question why.

France – 545 meetings – up one place to 4th

The city of romance is also the city of meetings, with Paris the number one city in the world for hosting international meetings.
According to the Paris Convention Bureau, large congresses were up in number in 2016 – there was a 22 per cent increase in congresses with 5000 delegates or more. There was also a five per cent  increase in congresses with less than 500 delegates, while the number of medium-sized congresses between 500 and 5000 participants remained stable.

The health sector accounted for the majority of congresses (37 per cent) followed by technology (11 per cent) and science (eight per cent).

The growth was enough to see France – and Paris – boost its ranking and Paris retain its number one spot.
It must be great to be in the heart of Europe. We doubt that recent terrorist attacks will reduce the number of conferences but there may be a shift with lower delegate numbers at some meetings.

Portugal – 287 meetings – up two places to 10th

We put Portugal’s rise of two places down to another great football season by Cristiano Ronaldo. Okay, so it probably wasn’t all Cristiano. Perhaps it was just good destination marketing by the Turismo de Lisboa – Visitors and Convention Bureau.
For those not in the know, Lisboa is Portugal’s capital.

With a national population of just 10 million, Portugal most definitely punches above its weight in the meetings sector.
Australia, in comparison, may have double the number of people, but significantly less international meetings.
We suspect that delegate numbers would be high for international meetings. We mean, who wouldn’t want to go to Portugal for a conference?

China – P.R. – 410 meetings – up one place to 7th

It’s just so big and everybody wants a piece of the pie. International association meetings are being held in China for international associations to grow. They want the Chinese to join their association, and sponsors of major meetings – in a range of fields – want to grow their markets into this massive region.

The other strong plus for China is that there are so many big cities – Shanghai and Beijing are just the tip of the iceberg. We are discovering plenty of secondary cities and so is the rest of the world.

With a government that is committed to expansion, we anticipate China will continue to grow its share of the meetings pie.

Austria – 268 meetings – up two places to 12th

In 2015 it was the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music. Was this a boost to Austria’s meetings sector? Hard to tell. Whatever the case, it probably didn’t hurt.
Like Portugal, Austria continues to punch above its weight. In fact, it’s doing more than that – rising two places in 2016 in comparison to 2015, hosting 268 meetings last year – 10 more than in 2015.
To the uninitiated, 10 extra meetings might not sound a lot but when you think about how many more delegates that could be, you’re talking growth in the tens of millions of dollars.
We look forward to seeing if Austria can retain its status in 2017.

Argentina – 188 meetings – up four places to 19th

Argentina couldn’t beat Germany in the last FIFA World Cup and they can’t beat them in the meetings game either. But the country is making considerable inroads into hosting international congresses just the same, jumping an incredible four places from 2015.
Argentina hosted seven more international meetings in 2016 than it did in 2015.
Certainly, Argentina’s location is a bonus for its conference hosting aspirations. And who wouldn’t want to have an all-expenses paid trip to such a place if the boss was shouting you?

Sweden – 260 meetings – up two places to 14th

Definitely another mover and shaker as far as the ICCA stats go, Sweden hosted a phenomenal 44 additional international meetings in 2016 compared to 2015. That’s a heck of a lot more Swedish meatballs for conference delegates than the previous year.
Like Austria, we wonder whether the high levels of safety in Sweden has been an instrumental factor in its growth. More recently, however, there have been some problems, including local protests focusing on Sweden’s intake of migrants and asylum seekers.
The outcome of this could have a knock-on effect to Sweden’s continued growth on the international meetings front.

Thailand – 174 meetings – up three places from 27th

After crunching the numbers we think that Thailand is definitely on the up and up when it comes to hosting international meetings.
Thailand has gone from 27th place to 24th, hosting 23 more international meetings in 2016 than it did in 2015.  That’s millions of dollars in additional revenue for the country. The growth is testament to the Kingdom focusing its energies on the conferences sector and the work that the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) has been doing in the past few years. The foundations that have been made are now bearing fruit, proving that investment in the conference sector can pay handsome dividends.

Singapore – 151 meetings – down four places to 28th

It may have dropped four places but Singapore remains a powerhouse within the Asia Pacific, especially considering its size. When you’re somewhere in the top 30 a few places can easily be gained by having just a few less meetings than previously. In real terms Singapore hosted just five less meetings that fit the ICCA criteria in 2016 in comparison to 2015.
Despite this, the country continues to be a powerhouse in the meetings sector. For Singapore it’s not all about association meetings. With such a large business sector, it does exceptionally well in the corporate meetings world as well.
And, despite the fall, Singapore has to be happy with its city ranking of sixth best in the world in terms of meetings. It remains the clear city winner in the Asia Pacific once more, with its closest rival being Seoul in 10th place (with 137 meetings). m

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