Head of the Association of Australian Convention Bureau (AACB), Andrew Heibl, describes Australia’s drop in International Congress and Convention Association global rankings – from 13th to 15th – as a concern.

But is it really?

In 2015, Australian cities played host to a total of 247 international meetings that fit into the strict criteria created by ICCA. For meetings to qualify by ICCA they must be held on a regular basis, have at least 50 delegates, and rotate between at least three countries.

Citing a decrease in market share from hosting 2.3 per cent of the world’s international meetings to now two per cent, Mr Heibl says this is a trend in the wrong direction.

“With the Federal Government’s focus on innovation, smart cities, transitioning the economy and jobs of the future, Australia needs a national strategy to secure more international conventions,” he said.

“In addition, Australia fell behind within our own region, slipping from 3rd to 4th place in the Asia Pacific and Middle East after Japan, China and South Korea.”

“Australia should aspire to return to a top 10 spot on the international rankings, a position we haven’t achieved since 2009.”

Bureaux around the country and contacted by micenet following the release of the ICCA rankings appear, on the whole, unconcerned about the results.

Business Event Sydney’s Lyn Lewis-Smith was understandably happy with Sydney keeping its same ranking in 2015 as it was in 2014 (25th). This is an incredible result considering it had no dedicated convention centre in 2015.

So too was the director of business & tourism events at Tourism Tropical North Queensland, Rosie Douglas. Ms Douglas said of their ICCA results – dropping one place to 191st in the world for 2015 but holding the same number of meetings as in 2014 (13) –was a testament to the desirability of Cairns.

“Cairns continues to lead regional Australia for international association conventions. The Cairns Convention Centre is a world class venue and this combined with exceptional support services and a city that is very ‘delegate friendly’ is a winning combination to deliver amazing events.”

The Perth Convention Bureau’s Paul Beeson does not put great emphasis on the ICCA rankings.

“When we look at the ROI of investing staff time to input ICCA stats, relative to the benefits higher potential ICCA results could give us, it’s an easy decision not to pursue rankings.  Our resources are better invested in local conveners, who’ve driven our bid success rate to 95 per cent,” he said.

Perth along with Canberra were the only Australian cities that went up in rankings in 2015 compared to their 2014 result.

“PCB’s local convener methodology leverages the political and knowledge based aspects of association conference bidding process to such an extent that the destination and supporting stats such as ICCA’s are secondary,” Mr Beeson added.

The Canberra Convention Bureau’s Giselle Radulovic said Canberra’s improved ranking as an international business events destination was very pleasing and a promising base on which to build, especially with the commencement of international flights from September this year.

Areas of expertise lead by Canberra universities and research centres, and Canberra’s increased recognition as an intellectual hub positions the destination well to grow its ICCA ranking in future years.

Adelaide Convention Bureau’s Damian Kitto said it would appear Adelaide’s results for 2015 are pretty much following the trend for the country and region.

“From a purely local perspective however, we look at our 2013 – 2015 results and see the impact of the three years of budget cuts we’d been handed… in 2014, a number of wins that had been sitting in the pipeline for some time came to fruition and some of the 16 events that year were originally slated for 2013.  Looking forwards not backwards however, our 2016 year is set to show an increase thanks to the new infrastructure within the city and investment and support to the business events industry by the State Government,” he said.

The AACB’s Andrew Heibl would like to see a bid fund that would allow the Federal Government to invest in acquiring business events of national significance to Australia.

Other bureaux contacted by micenet did not provide comment prior to publication.


City by city results in Australia for 2015 are as follows:

  • Sydney – 25th place (86 meetings) – same ranking as 2014 (hosted 82 meetings)
  • Melbourne – 49th (54 meetings) – down from 37th place in 2014 (hosted 61 meetings)
  • Brisbane – 93rd (28 meetings) – down from 67th place in 2014 (hosted 37 meetings)
  • Perth – 148th (17 meetings) – up from 240th place in 2014 (hosted nine meetings)
  • Cairns – 191st (13 meetings) – down from 190th place in 2014 (hosted 13 meetings)
  • Canberra – 207th (12 meetings) – up from 240th place in 2014 (hosted 10 meetings)
  • Gold Coast – 207th (12 meetings) – down from 152nd place in 2014 (hosted 16 meetings)
  • Adelaide – 254th (nine meetings) – down from 152nd in 2014 (hosted 16 meetings)
  • Hobart – ranking not provided in initial ICCA release
  • Darwin – ranking not provided in initial ICCA release


Top 10 cities globally for 2015 are:

  • Berlin (195 meetings)
  • Paris (186)
  • Barcelona (180)
  • Vienna (178)
  • London/Madrid (171)
  • Singapore (156)
  • Instanbul (148)
  • Lisbon (145)
  • Copenhagen (138)


Top 3 countries for 2015 are:

  • USA (925 meetings)
  • Germany (667)
  • United Kingdom (582)