by Matt Alderton | June 12, 2018
Last month, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) published its annual list of the top countries and cities for international association meetings. The most popular countries, it revealed, were the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom while the most popular cities were Barcelona, Paris, and Vienna.

In new charts published today, however, the association offers an alternative view of its data: In addition to number of meetings -- the metric on which ICCA traditionally bases its rankings -- ICCA has ranked destinations by estimated total number of meeting participants.

Again, Barcelona took top honors among cities, hosting 148,624 participants for 195 qualifying meetings, and the United States among countries, hosting 424,010 participants for 941 qualifying meetings.

Rankings shifted slightly for other destinations. Among the city rankings, for example, Vienna ranked second for number of participants but third for number of meetings while Madrid ranked fourth for number of participants but seventh for number of meetings. 

Similarly, among the country rankings Japan and Canada ranked tenth and seventh for number of participants, but seventh and ninth for number of meetings.

Also notable is the fact that several destinations that made the top 10 in 2016 did not in 2017: Cities that attracted fewer meeting attendees in 2017 were Seoul, Copenhagen, Rome, and Beijing. China, meanwhile, was among the top 10 countries for number of meetings but not for number of participants; taking its spot on the latter list was Austria.

According to ICCA, the top 10 countries for international association meetings, based on attendance, were as follows in 2017:

1. United States (424,010 participants)
2. Spain (327,996 participants)
3. Germany (246,045 participants)
4. France (211,129 participants)
5. United Kingdom (192,544 participants)
6. Italy (172,274 participants)
7. Canada (168,223 participants)
8. Austria (139,187 participants)
9. Netherlands (134,510 participants)
10. Japan (133,025 participants)

The top 10 cities for international association meetings, meanwhile, were:

1. Barcelona (148,624 participants)
2. Vienna (113,891 participants)
3. Paris (111,725 participants)
4. Madrid (110,438 participants)
5. Berlin (97,549 participants)
6. Singapore (83,762 participants)
7. London (78,811 participants)
8. Lisbon (76,549 participants)
9. Amsterdam (75,578 participants)
10. Prague (66,790 participants)

To be included in the ICCA rankings, association meetings must be held on a regular basis, have at least 50 delegates, and rotate between at least three countries. The number of qualifying international association meetings reached 12,558 in 2017, up by 346 meetings from 2016 and the highest annual figure ICCA has ever recorded.

While the number of meetings continues to rise every year, however, attendance appears to be falling, according to ICCA, which said 33 percent of all meetings in 2007 hosted 50-149 participants compared to 40 percent in 2017, "indicating that association meetings continue to decrease in size."