For the first time ever, more than 10,000 regularly occurring association events which rotate between at least three countries were identified by ICCA members and ICCA's in-house research team as having taken place during 2011, over 800 more than identified a year previously.
The top 10 countries showed little change, with the top six repeating their rankings, led by the USA, Germany and Spain. The Netherlands and Austria appeared in the 9th and 10th place respectively, taking the place of Switzerland, which dropped from 10 to 12, and Japan, which in the aftermath of cancellations due to the earthquake and tsunami, dropped from 7 to 13. The US saw the biggest jump in the number of events held, up by 136 to a new record 759 meetings.
In the city rankings, Vienna retained its number one status and below it, Paris overtook Barcelona in the second and third place duel. The biggest climbers in the top ten were London, with the 2012 Olympics effect pulling them up from the 14th to the 7th place, and Beijing, which led the way amongst the fast growing BRIC destinations by climbing from 12 to 10.
"There are always going to be short-term competitive changes to annual rankings, some caused by external factors and some by marketing successes," said ICCA CEO Martin Sirk, adding that "the most important thing to note is that international association meetings continue to be in tremendously good health when compared to the overall situation in the global meetings industry. We've seen consistent annual growth in the number of international association meetings through the last few years of global economic instability, something no other sector can claim, even though we're also hearing about increasing challenges in raising sponsorship amongst a sizeable minority of organisers."
Sirk concluded: "I strongly believe that any destination wanting to achieve long-term overall success in the meetings business needs to invest in research and the specialised marketing and bidding skills required to attract these international association events."