ICCA Announces Top Performing Destinations for International Association Meetings

Press Room > 2022

The International Congress and Convention Association  has released new information, in order to shed more light on how the pandemic impacted the association meetings industry in 2021. The Public Abstract of the ICCA Annual Statistics report is now available for non-ICCA members.

Owing to the transformational events of 2020, ICCA refined its approach to the report by including meetings that were affected by the pandemic as well as, those that remained unaffected.

Now, non-ICCA members can benefit from this new methodology, called the Destination Performance Index, which provides a more holistic view of how destinations have addressed recent challenges.

The Public Abstract also presents the top destinations for association meetings in 2021, based on estimated total number of attendees for hybrid and virtual events. At the same time, it provides a three-year economic impact analysis, which is usually not available to non-ICCA members.

The DPI examines 8,000 international association meetings scheduled for 2021, based on six performance indicators such as planned, unaffected, virtual, hybrid, digitalisation and business continuation. When combined, the indicators represent the overall DPI, highlighting how destinations have performed with regard to winning the original bid, covid policies, adaptability, and technological capabilities to convert on-site events into virtual and hybrid events.

Countries and cities represented in the top 20 meeting destinations in 2021 are similar to the 2019 report, with a few exceptions.

As in 2019, the USA is the top performing country for association meetings in the DPI, as they ranked first in four of the six indicators based on planned, virtual, digitalisation and business continuation.

The remaining two indicators, unaffected and hybrid were topped by Spain and China. Vienna and Lisbon were close contenders in the DPI for cities but, Vienna ultimately claimed the lead due to having more unaffected meetings in 2021.

Overall, Europe was a strong performer as an association meeting destination during the pandemic. Seventy percent of the top 20 countries and 80 percent of the top 20 cities are European.

Denmark and Greece replaced Argentina and Brazil in the top 20 countries for meetings. Austria made the biggest jump, from 16th to 11th place. Italy claimed 5th place from the United Kingdom. Spain jumped two spots since 2019, to become the 2nd meetings destination globally.

Facing stricter covid policies, than many other meeting destinations worldwide, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea embraced new technologies to go hybrid. Due to their high number of hybrid meetings, the Republic of Korea replaced the Netherlands in the top 10 country destinations.

Amongst destination cities, Montreal and Dubai were both outliers within their respective regions. Montreal was the only North American city in the top 20. Dubai ranked 1st for unaffected meetings and was the only Middle Eastern city represented in the six individual top 20 rankings. Meanwhile, Budapest, Portugal and Stockholm are all newcomers to the top 20 DPI for cities.

The full ICCA Annual Statistics report, is available only to ICCA members and contains additional analysis on the top destinations, economic impact, regional and global business-continuation and meeting subject matters.