Most Popular Congress Cities Worldwide: Vienna in 1st Place Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

More+Events ♦ Published: August 5, 2022; 07:59 ♦ (Vindobona)

As an ideal venue for international congresses and events, Vienna has built a reputation in the past. Now this reputation has been confirmed by the International Congress and Convention Association. The first congress statistics published by Vienna since the Covid-19 outbreak were published in 2021, placing it ahead of Lisbon and Athens as the world's top conference metropolis.

Vienna landed in first place worldwide as a conference metropolis. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Bwag (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Vienna is generally known worldwide as the seat of international organisations, a top quality of life and a beautiful cityscape. But Vienna has also built a reputation as an ideal venue for international congresses and events. Now this reputation has been confirmed by a publication of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).

In its first published congress statistics since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Vienna landed in first place worldwide as a conference metropolis in the overall 2021 ranking, ahead of Lisbon and Athens.

This impressive ranking can be attributed to 92 congresses held in the calendar year 2021, of which nine were held without restrictions, 22 hybrid and 61 virtual - a total of 113 congresses were planned. In 2nd and 3rd place in the overall ICCA ranking are Lisbon (91 congresses held) and Athens (66), followed by Barcelona, Singapore, Madrid, Prague, Paris, Berlin and Brussels.

In 2019, Vienna ranked 6th in the ICCA statistics, and second in 2018.

Strong result in country comparison

The ICCA ranking also provides information on performance at country level: here, Austria (130) ranks 11th worldwide (2019: 16th), with the USA (354), Spain (263) and Germany (250) topping the country list.

"Vienna has been one of the most popular congress metropolises worldwide for many years. The recovery of the meetings industry can only happen in small steps - but Vienna's top ranking worldwide clearly shows that we are on the right track. To accelerate it, the City of Vienna has launched the four-million-euro Vienna Meeting Fund. This creates frequency in the city's meeting venues and accommodation establishments and secures jobs in the tourism industry. With more than 500 submissions and almost 400 funding commitments to date, it is proving to be a powerful lever for attracting international congresses and corporate events to Vienna in the coming years," explains Peter Hanke, City Councillor for Economic Affairs.

"International congresses remained the determining factor in Vienna's conference scene even during the pandemic, despite all the travel restrictions. Open borders, international flight connections and global passenger traffic are just as important a basis for the existence of our meetings industry as the modernisations and investments in our meetings infrastructure, for which Vienna's congress industry has made good use of the past two years," says Norbert Kettner, Director of the Vienna Tourist Board.

It was decided by the ICCA last year to discontinue its otherwise annual ranking of the most popular congress destinations due to the Corona pandemic. A ranking based on 2021 key figures was published arguing that they now had more than a year to adapt to the changes.

Prior to the pandemic, only meetings that actually occurred on site were considered, but now postponed or relocated meetings are also included, as well as hybrid events or virtual meetings. In order to make the performance of destinations comparable, the ICCA developed a so-called Destination Performance Index (DPI).

About the Vienna Convention Bureau

Founded in 1969, the Vienna Convention Bureau is supported by the Vienna Chamber of Commerce and the City of Vienna. It acquires congresses, corporate meetings and incentives worldwide. Around 5,500 congresses and meetings were held in Vienna in 2019, resulting in 1.6 million overnight stays and 950 million euros in value.

Investing in Vienna as a meeting destination is a part of the Visitor Economy Strategy 2015 and the Economic and Innovation Strategy 2030 of the City of Vienna. Vienna is one of the top meeting destinations in the world, according to current rankings by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), and the Union of International Associations (UIA).

Vienna City Government - Magistrat der Stadt Wien