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Meetings made in Germany show significant depth and growth over the past 25 years

At a press conference yesterday at IMEX America, the German Convention Bureau (GCB) marked the 25th anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution and the fall of the wall which culminated in the reunification of Germany one year later. These milestones launched a steady stream of progress across the country, particularly in the meetings industry.

According to Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB, “The fall of the wall 25 years ago and the reunification one year later have had great impact on the meetings industry as a vital component of our economy. Our agility in meshing evolving conference goals and needs with our strengths in industry, innovation and in the environment have been a successful formula for several decades. Additionally, our ability to listen to meeting planners and what is important to them has ensured that what we offer the meetings industry is high impact."  

The number of conferences and meetings organized in Germany has grown every decade since the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) was founded in 1963 and started recording the number of international association meetings hosted per country per year. According to ICCA, in the 26 years from 1963 to 1989, Germany hosted a total of 2,149 international industry meetings. By contrast, in the 21 years since the reunification to 2011, that number grew to 7,549, an increase of more than 250 percent. Now for the tenth year in a row, Germany has earned the ranking of #1 in Europe and #2 in the world, after the United States, as an international meetings destination.  

What’s more, the number of German cities hosting international meetings has grown significantly. In the Sixties, just five cities – Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Wiesbaden – hosted international meetings. Today that number has grown to more than 30 cities from across all of Germany. This distinguishes Germany in the meetings industry as most countries find that only a handful of their cities host international meetings and conferences.  

It probably comes as little surprise that the growth of Germany’s capital and most populous city, Berlin, is the most significant. From 1963 to 1989, the city hosted 306 international meetings. Since the reunification, 2,172 international meetings have come to Berlin, representing an increase of more than 600 percent. Today, Berlin is ranked fifth worldwide as a city for international meetings.

Hamburg and Munich, the second and third most populous cities in Germany, have also had positive growth paths. Hamburg hosted 221 meetings from 1963 to 1989 and 511 meetings from 1990 to 2013 (up 130 percent). Munich hosted 344 and 900 meetings (up 160 percent) in the same time frames.  

Another unique characteristic is the rapid growth of foreign participants in German meetings. Just from 2006 to 2013 alone, the number grew from 14.3 million to 22.1 million, an increase of 54 percent.

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