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ICCA releases rankings by participant numbers

June 20, 2017 MICE No Comments Email Email

ICCA has published country and city rankings by estimated total number of participants to international association meetings in 2016, as part of its public abstract of the ICCA statistics report.

Vienna, second in the city ranking by number of meetings in 2016, ranks first in this ranking with an estimated total of almost 120,000 participants visiting 186 association meetings in 2016. Seoul, which is only tenth in the ranking by number of meetings with 137 meetings in 2016), is second with almost 105,000 participants. Barcelona, like in in the ranking by number of meetings in 2016, ranks third with close to 100,000 participants, closely followed by Copenhagen, which is fourteenth in the ranking by number of meetings. This means Seoul and Copenhagen host relatively large meetings. Like in the number of meetings ranking, London is fifth. Paris, number one in the ranking by number of meetings, ranks seventh in this list.

Table 1: Top 10 city ranking by estimated total number of participants to all meetings organised in 2016, including number of meetings organised in 2016

Rank City # Participants # Meetings Rank by # Meetings
1 Vienna 119,887 186 2
2 Seoul 104,780 137 10
3 Barcelona 99,468 181 3
4 Copenhagen 99,359 115 14
5 London 91,756 153 5
6 Amsterdam 77,644 144 7
7 Paris 75,710 196 1
8 Rome 68,612 96 20
9 Beijing 65,947 113 15
10 Singapore 61,294 151 6

The top three countries by estimated total number of participants is the same as the ranking by number of meetings: USA is first with over 400,000 participants in 2016, Germany is second with over 280,000 participants and the United Kingdom is third with almost 230,000 participants. Italy is two places higher in this ranking and takes fourth place and like the ranking by number of meetings, Spain is fifth.

Table 2: Top 10 country ranking by estimated total number of participants to all meetings organised in 2016, including number of meetings organised in 2016

Rank Country # Participants # Meetings Rank by # Meetings
1 U.S.A. 401,332 934 1
2 Germany 280,108 689 2
3 United Kingdom 228,642 582 3
4 Italy 219,041 468 6
5 Spain 217,724 533 5
6 Japan 205,537 410 7
7 France 176,660 545 4
8 China-P.R. 167,114 410 7
9 Republic of Korea 160,681 267 13
10 Netherlands 156,039 368 9

ICCA’s annual country and city rankings by number of meetings were published on 8 May 2017. ICCA captured 12,212 rotating international association meetings taking place in 2016, which is a record for ICCA’s annual snapshot of immediate past year’s meetings data, and 136 additional meetings compared to 2015. To be included, association meetings must be held on a regular basis, have at least 50 delegates, and rotate between at least three countries.

Many more, but smaller meetings
This was another decade of great success for the sector as ICCA identifies more than double the number of association meetings in a decade: from just under 6,000 in 2006 to over 12,000 in 2016.

This means that the trend of exponential growth, as identified in ICCA’s advocacy report “A modern history of international association meetings: 1963-2013”, published at ICCA’s 50-year anniversary in 2013 (available on, continues to apply: The number of association meetings continues to double every decade.

International association meetings are quickly growing in number, but are generally getting smaller. The estimated total number of participants to all meetings in ICCA’s Association Database was approximately 4 million in 2006 and 5 million in 2016, so while the total number of meetings grew with 100% in a decade, the total number of participants grew “only” 25%. The average number of participants to an international association meeting decreased from 672 in 2006 to 404 in 2016.

Public abstract available
More extensive rankings by participant numbers, as well as the worldwide and regional rankings by number of meetings are included in ICCA’s public abstract of its 2016 Statistics Report, which can be downloaded from ICCA’s Knowledge Hub. This public abstract is sent to over 5,300 international associations.

Look beyond the ICCA rankings
With a track record of over 50 years of consistently collecting information on international association meetings, the ICCA rankings are one of the few benchmarks in the international meetings market for identifying and comparing the relative position of destinations, which is why these rankings attract a huge amount of attention of the meetings industry every year.

ICCA points out though that its statistics on international association meetings are often just a small segment of the total amount of international meetings taking place in a city or country, and urges its members to collect their own information on meetings hosted in their destination.
By publishing these rankings by estimated total number of participants, ICCA hopes its members will look beyond the standard ICCA rankings.

ICCA CEO Martin Sirk commented: “We can’t stress this point strongly enough: ICCA’s rankings are a snapshot of a moment in time of a database designed for sales and marketing purposes, for a very specific segment of the market, a segment moreover where decisions are made three to six years in advance. Any destination wishing to accurately present its true performance in the international meetings field needs to complement the ICCA statistics and rankings with its own robust measurement of all meetings business won for the future and hosted in the past year. With our ICCA Destination Comparison Tool, ICCA members can also extract data on meetings that are especially important for their destination, for example if they’re primarily interested in meetings of more than 1,000 delegates, or which are related to a particularly important segment of the association market, such as medical sciences – we expect to see many ICCA members communicating their rankings in these specific type of meetings, and not just relying on their position in our overall rankings”.

ICCA assists the international association community to run more efficient and effective meetings. Associations can register for the ICCA Association Portal on -a unique online platform providing a safe environment through which Association Executives could get in touch with peers to exchange valuable advice and information on their meetings.

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