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Study Tracks Growth of Association Meetings over 50 Years

The number of international association meetings doubles every 10 years, according to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), which yesterday published a landmark study titled "A Modern History of International Association Meetings: 1963-2012"

In the 50 years covered, the number of international association meetings — events that are organized by international associations, take place on a regular basis and rotate between at least three different countries — has grown from 1,795 in the five-year period of 1963-1967 to 54,844 in the five-year period of 2008-2012.

Cumulatively, the 50-year total of international association meetings has been 173,432, on which organizers have spent an estimated $56.4 billion.

“Half a century is a long period over which to collect detailed and consistent information on any subject, and in the world of international meetings, where most countries are still struggling to obtain even a partial picture of the current size and impact of this complex and fragmented industry, it represents a monumental achievement,” ICCA CEO Martin Sirk said in a statement. “For almost as long as there has been an international association meetings sector, ICCA has been there alongside, in all regions of the world, to observe and carefully record its growth. And now that we have 50 years of data to study and consider, the figures are showing what we have long believed: that our world is undergoing a truly revolutionary period in the creation and dissemination of new knowledge and innovation, and that association meetings provide an excellent insight into this dynamic, worldwide process.”

During the 50 years of the study, the United States hosted the most international association meetings (4,277), followed by Germany (3,091) and Spain (2,523). The cities that hosted the most meetings, meanwhile, were Paris (897), Vienna (875) and Barcelona (822).