In 1989, the infamous Berlin Wall came down, paving the way for the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990. Twenty-five years later, the German Convention Bureau (GCB) is celebrating the event not only for its historical significance, but also for its role in catalyzing the German meetings industry.
According to GCB, the number of conferences and meetings organized in Germany has grown every decade since the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) began tracking international association meetings in 1963. In the 26 years from 1963 to 1989, ICCA data show, Germany hosted a total of 2,149 international industry meetings. By contrast, in the 21 years since the reunification to 2011, that number grew to 7,549, an increase of more than 250 percent. For the 10th consecutive year this year, those numbers earned Germany a ranking of No. 1 in Europe and No. 2 in the world for international meetings in ICCA's annual rankings.
"What's more, the number of German cities hosting international meetings has grown significantly," GCB reports. "In the Sixties, just five cities -- Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, and Wiesbaden -- hosted international meetings. Today that number has grown to more than 30 cities from across all of Germany. This distinguishes Germany in the meetings industry as most countries find that only a handful of their cities host international meetings and conferences."
Growth in meetings held in Germany's capital city, Berlin, has been most significant. From 1963 to 1989, ICCA data show, the city hosted 306 international meetings. Since the reunification, 2,172 international meetings have come to Berlin, representing an increase of more than 600 percent. Today, ICCA ranks Berlin fifth worldwide as a destination for international meetings.
"The fall of the wall 25 years ago and the reunification one year later have had great impact on the meetings industry as a vital component of our economy," GCB Managing Director Matthias Schultze said in a statement. "Our agility in meshing evolving conference goals and needs with our strengths in industry, innovation and in the environment have been a successful formula for several decades. Additionally, our ability to listen to meeting planners and what is important to them has ensured that what we offer the meetings industry is high impact."
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