Melbourne was the only Australian city to make the annual International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) association meeting index for 2021, with Australia making it into the top 20 for countries.
The annual Destination Performance Index of association meetings held was tweaked to account for the distortions caused by the pandemic by including meetings that were affected by the pandemic as well as those that remained unaffected.
The countries and cities represented in the top 20 meeting destinations in 2021 are similar to the 2019 report, with a few exceptions.
As in 2019, the US is the top performing country for association meetings as they ranked number one in four of the six indicators (planned, virtual, digitalisation, and business continuation). The remaining two indicators, unaffected and hybrid, were topped by Spain and China, respectively.
Australia made it onto the list in 20th spot, with New Zealand coming in at 49th. Australia also ranked 15th in terms of the number of attendees in 2021.
Overall, Europe was a strong performer as an association meeting destination during the pandemic. Seventy percent of the top 20 countries and 80 per cent of the top 20 cities are European.
Vienna claimed the top spot in the cities index, beating off strong competition from Lisbon due to having more unaffected meetings in 2021.
Melbourne was the only Australian city to make the list coming in at 44th.
Senthil Gopinath, ICCA’s CEO, said it was important to have a clearer sense of how the global association meetings industry has transformed during the past two years.
“As COVID restrictions are generally being lifted around the world, we are looking back at the year 2021 while being mindful of the current economic and geopolitical issues at hand,” he said.
“After the tumultuous year of 2020, the year 2021 can best be characterised as consolidative on the one hand and progressive recovery on the other. Although we have yet to return to pre-pandemic numbers, we have gained significant ground on the road to full recovery. Further, we have transformed the meetings industry in the process.
“On the aforementioned road to full recovery and transformation we will need to maintain, as the saying goes, an attitude of expecting the unexpected.”