This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Barcelona tops world ranking of cities with most conference participants

Barcelona has become the world’s top city in terms of attracting most congress delegates. The capital of Catalonia received 122,877 delegates at 179 conferences last year, according to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Barcelona, meanwhile, was fourth in 2013 in terms of number of conference events, second only to Paris, Madrid and Vienna.

This is the second time in the last ten years that Barcelona leads the ranking of cities that attracts most conference participants. Barcelona was already leading this category in 2010, when it drew more than 140,000 participants that year, a record for the city’s congress segment.

A test of the city’s strength in the competitive conference segment is the fact that since 2001, Barcelona is the only city in the world that has stayed in the top five cities with most conferences held each year. And if you take cities that are not state capitals, then it is the world’s top performer. In the last decade (2004-2013), it has become the world’s second best city in number of congress participants (926,111), below Vienna (935,156), but above Paris (878,948).

The city’s latest top-ranking position is based on the strength of Barcelona’s brand, its ability to host large conferences and also on Turisme de Barcelona’s specialist sector programme called Barcelona Convention Bureau (BCB), which for 31 years has been advising, planning and helping to bring meetings to Barcelona. Estimates show that in 2013 business tourism generated a direct economic impact of 1,264.26 million Euros in the city.

Amsterdam, Istanbul and Vienna are the only cities along with Barcelona that recorded more than 100,000 delegates at its conferences in 2013. Just in September, the city hosted 45,000 participants at important medical congresses, including the European Respiratory Society, the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe, and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

The Mobile World Congress is not part of this category

ICCA statistics include international conferences that have a minimum of 50 participants and that regularly rotate between at least three different countries. The latter is important: Barcelona has positioned itself in the top position of the ICCA ranking without including events like the Mobile World Congress and its 80,000 delegates, which is only held in the Catalan capital.

Therefore, if we count conferences with fewer than 50 participants, the number of delegates attending conferences in Barcelona is much higher than the figure given by ICCA. According to data collected by Barcelona Convention Bureau, the city attracted 289,191 delegates in 2013.

BCB ( is a specialized Turisme de Barcelona programme designed to promote the city as a destination for congresses, conventions and incentive travel. Set up in 1983 and a pioneer in Spain, Barcelona Convention Bureau offers advisory and planning services for meetings for any company that organises professional meetings.

Submit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

Related Articles

Search and book 70,000+ venues in 134 countries