Manchester moves up international rankings in new conference report

– Manchester rises 11 places to 82nd in global ranking
– The city is fourth in UK
– 35 ICCA approved meetings reported in 2019

Prior to COVID-19’s widespread and devastating impact on the business tourism, meetings and events industry, Manchester was riding high and Marketing Manchester’s business tourism team was on track for one of its best years for prestigious conference wins.

Whilst the future of the business tourism, meetings and events industry is uncertain, confirmation of Manchester’s positive trajectory has been confirmed this week by jumping eleven places above its 2018 position in the influential International Congress and Convention Association’s (ICCA) annual report.

ICCA rankings are used as an industry benchmark by destinations, associations and events planners across the world with cities being positioned based on how many international and European meetings and conferences they held in the previous year.

A city’s ICCA ranking helps confirm its status as a high-quality international destination for business tourism and is one of the first considerations of associations choosing a future host city. A significant increase in position offers business tourism leaders hope of what Manchester could bounce back to in the future.

Amongst the hundreds of conferences held in Manchester 35 were ICCA approved – an increase of four meetings on 2018. These included the Conference of the European Sociological Association 2019, the 58th Annual Conference of the Particle Therapy Co-operative Group (PTCOG), and the 11th EANN Quadrennial Congress.

Manchester’s 2019 conferences have pushed the city into 82nd position in the global city rankings and have helped the city maintain its 4th place position within the UK whilst competitor UK destinations have dropped down the table.

Sheona Southern, Managing Director at Marketing Manchester said: “With the impact of COVID-19 set to cause disruption to the industry for several years, it is important to acknowledge successes like this, which show confidence in our city as a desirable place to hold a conference, meeting or event.

“We have a very strong offer for the business tourism, meetings and events industry based on intellect, knowledge and innovation, as well as fantastic infrastructure and support services that organisers expect of a first-rate conference destination.

“Of course, the industry will need to change drastically in a post-COVID-19 world, and it will come as no surprise to anyone that has ever held and conference in Manchester that our venues are already well-ahead with plans for the safe delivery of future conferences.”

Sarah Evans, Head of Sales at The University of Manchester, said: “In the wake of COVID-19 our teams are evolving to adapt our venues to incorporate new social distancing guidelines, as a University we are always at the forefront of technology and as such our institution is well prepared to deliver hybrid or virtual conferences, giving organisers and delegates the choice to participate in events in a way they are comfortable with.

“We continue to work hand in hand with Marketing Manchester to promote Manchester as a destination on both a National and International scale and very much look forward to welcoming delegates back to our wonderful city.”

Shaun Hinds, Chief Executive at Manchester Central said: “This is incredibly welcome news for the city and is testament to the true partnership efforts of ‘Team Manchester’. During these current times, it is so important that we continue to showcase the importance of business events and the value they create for cities and economies. The fact that Manchester sits in such a strong position stands us in great stead for successfully welcoming international events back to the city at the earliest opportunity.”

As of 2017 Manchester’s business tourism industry currently generated over £862 million a year for the city-region economy. Over the last 10 years, the city had increased its conference value and volume by 50% and the Greater Manchester Business Tourism Strategy, launched in August 2019, aimed to grow the total conference value again to £1.2 billion by 2025.