In May 2012, London & Partners, the city’s convention bureau, set a target to reach ICCA’s top five cities for association meetings after the Olympics. This target was set after it met its initial target – to make the top 10 by 2015 – three years early.
Talking to C&IT, Tracy Halliwell, director of Business Tourism & Major Events, said: "I think the question of why we haven’t made the top five is a good question. The Olympic effect led to a 9% increase in leisure visitors last year and hotels were operating at 90% occupancy, which knocked out potential occupancy for the association market."
In 2013, London recorded 150 international association meetings (with 50-plus delegates), which increased to 166 this year.
Halliwell said that London’s position in the ICCA rankings shows it has remained "static" this year, as it slipped one place to seventh, behind Singapore, which it shared the sixth spot with in 2013. She said: "The number of association events London hosts is growing every year. For example, this year we recorded a 10% increase on 2013 and in last year’s rankings we would have been fourth with 166 meetings. It’s good news that the association market is growing overall."
Halliwell said that London hopes to remain in the top 10 in 2015, but still has aspirations to make the top five. She added: "London has 30,000 bedrooms in development that are set to open in the next few years. We have also launched an ambassador programme and, with Med City coming online, we hope to attract more major medical and life science congresses. London is fast becoming a major convention city."