The Top Cities for Association Meetings

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Vienna topped the list of most popular cities.

After a two-year hiatus, the ICCA city and country rankings are back — here are the cities and countries research says are coming in hot for post-pandemic association meetings and events.

The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) recently released its 2022 annual Country — and — City Rankings for 2022. Now that the association meetings industry is returning to 85% of its pre-pandemic size, the time was right to bring back the rankings after a two-year hiatus, said ICCA. However, the organization also recognized that some countries are still constrained by COVID restrictions, even as the World Health Organization has declared that COVID-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency.

But 85% back to normal isn’t quite all the way back to full normal, the organization was careful to note. Due to a lingering number of COVID-related cancellations and postponements still happening in 2022, the ICCA Research team only could identify 10,500 meetings (about 9,000 held either in person or hybrid), compared to 2019’s 13,254 meetings. That’s why ICCA’s country and city comparative analysis for 2022 was based on rankings, rather than the actual number of meetings held.

ICCA members still welcomed the research, said ICCA CEO Senthil Gopinath. “This is a tremendous undertaking by our team, one that is most welcomed by our members because the ICCA Country — and City — Rankings always generates a huge industry interest. It’s heartening to see the drive towards in-person meetings is once more very strong and we predict this trend will grow throughout the coming year.”

Who’s on Top

Top Countries overall: For the association meetings market, the U.S. earned the top spot on the ICCA list, followed by Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the U.K. Those top six accounted for more than 33% of all the meetings in the researchers’ database.

Top Cities overall: As to the top cities, Vienna, Austria was at the apex, followed by Lisbon, Portugal; Paris, France; Barcelona, Spain; and Prague, Czech Republic.

Regional bests: In the Asia Pacific region, Japan was the top country, followed by the Republic of Korea, and Australia. APAC city rankings found Singapore at the top of the list, followed by Seoul, Republic of Korea, and Taipei, Taiwan.

In the North and Latin America country rankings, the U.S. came out on top, followed by Canada and Mexico. The top three cities in this region were Buenos Aires, Argentina; Montreal, QC, Canada; and Mexico City, Mexico.

The Africa region’s top country was South Africa, trailed by Morocco and Rwanda. Top African cities were Cape Town, South Africa; Kigali, Rwanda; and Cairo, Egypt.

In the Middle East region, the U.A.E. was far and away the top country, followed by Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Two U.A.E. cities, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, topped the Middle East region city rankings, followed by Amman, Jordan, in third place.

To meet ICCA’s research criteria, meetings had to rotate between at least three countries, attract at least 50 participants, and be held with a certain frequency. Of these, some 9,000 meetings (86 percent) took place mostly in-person only, some in a hybrid format. The ICCA rankings were first announced at this year’s IMEX Frankfurt meeting, held May 23–25 in Frankfurt, Germany.

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