The ICCA research is a valuable indicator of the latest developments in international professional associations market even though it is clear that the survey can not cover all events that took place around the globe. The statistics also do not cover corporate, business and intergovernmental meetings and motivational trips (incentives), which make for an important part of the meetings industry. What is more, the results depend on how successful were the convention bureaus and other ICCA members during the process of data collection, which means we should be careful when interpreting the results. However, ICCA is the only organization in the industry publishing the annual statistics report of this scale and has been doing it for over 50 years following the same criteria: the survey includes meetings organized by international professional associations with at least 50 participants that rotate between at least 3 diferent countries and are held regularly (one-off events are not taken into consideration). This methodology enables a consistent and ongoing comparison of world's destinations in the meetings industry.
Global overview for 2016
In 2016, 12,212 events took place worldwide (136 more than in 2015), which is a record number since 1962 when ICCA started to collect the data. Between 2007 and 2016 the number of global events doubled - from approximately 6,000 international meetings in 2006 to more than 12,000 events in 2016. The trend of exponential growth has been present over the past five decades.
In the latest ICCA statistics, Paris is the number one city destination with 196 events in 2016. It was the highest ranking destination also in 2014. In the top 5 of the 2016 list we can also find Vienna, Barcelona, London and Berlin - it is the same group of cities as in 2015 although the order is somewhat different with the German capital being at this year's top. The first non-European city is Singapore in the 6th place, in the top 10 we can find also Madrid, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Seoul.
The United States is the country with the highest number of events recorded (934), followed by Germany with 689, United Kingdom with 582, France and Spain. Interestingly enough, the top 10 list is comprised by the very same countries as in 2015 with a few minor changes. Europe remains the leading continent in the segment of association meetings as 53.6% of all recorded events in the ICCA statistics were held here.
2016 ICCA report includes 115 countries and 435 cities that held at least 5 events in the last year. The months with the most events in 2016 were October, September, June and May.
In announcing the first results, ICCA President Martin Sirk highlighted the developments in the global market, particularly the rapid development of information technology and the knowledge economy, which is highly reflected in the dynamics of today's meetings industry.
What about Slovenia and Ljubljana?
In the world rankings Slovenia is 44th (with 73 events) - in 2015 it was 46th with 65 events. Just above we can find Croatia (43rd place with 75 events) and Russia (76 events), Romania and Uruguay (69), New Zealand (67), Serbia and the Philippines (66 events) are placed immediately behind us. In the regional rankings (Europe) Slovenia is 23rd.
Ljubljana jumped visibly in the world scale compared with the results of 2015: it is now 47th (together with Hamburg) with 54 events (in 2015 it was 64th with 44 events). Just above we can find destinations like Washington DC (57 events), Melbourne and Kyoto (58), and Milan (69). Immediately behind Ljubljana there is Dubai (52 events), Glasgow (51) and Belgrade (50 events), while Zagreb is 81st with 34 events. In the regional rankings (Europe) Ljubljana is 25th.
Worth adding are some other facts as they help us understand the results in a more complete way - firstly, the estimated total number of meetings participants in Ljubljana according to the ICCA 2016 statistics report is 12,338 compared to 9,621 in 2015. Ljubljana is doing well also when compared to other cities of similar size, for example Zagreb, Salzburg and Graz – all three of them have substantially lower numbers of participants per city (Zagreb 5,309, Graz 4,813 and Salzburg 3,227). Similarly, Ljubljana dominates the three competitive cities also in the category of meetings size, having the highest number of events in the categories of 40-149 participants, 150-249, 250-499, 50-999 and 1000-1999. And secondly, the fact that Ljubljana was part of the top 50 list in 2011 already with 'only' 37 events proves once again the fact that each year new destinations are entering the congress segment which contributes to global competition getting stronger and stronger.
As the prospects for 2018 and later remain very positive, it is possible to sum up a few elements that largely contributed to positive results of Ljubljana and Slovenia - the crucial ones being the continous marketing efforts by the key stakeholders that have been actively involved in bidding for international associations congresses, and the generally increased visibility of Ljubljana and Slovenia as a congress destination.
Last but not least, prestigious international awards and recognitions such as Ljubljana - the European Green Capital 2016 have to be taken into account, as well as the active role of Slovenian scientists in international associations, the ongoing development of congress products, investements made in the hotel industry, and an increasingly attractive tourist offer. In short, we are very proud of the 2016 ICCA results and will consider them as an extra encouragement and opportunity to aim for even greater achievements in the future.