Amsterdam skyrockets in popularity as global meeting spot

The Dutch capital has landed in seventh place among the top 10 conference locations worldwide, climbing five spots from 2015 – the largest increase of any of the ranked cities – according to the 2016 International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Country & City rankings.

Amsterdam hosted 144 meetings in 2016 compared to 120 in 2015, an increase of 20%. Overall, Europe was a clear leader with eight of the top 10 cities; Singapore and Seoul were the only non-European cities to rank among the top 10. The Netherlands as a whole ranked well, landing in ninth place among the top 20 countries with a total of 368 conferences. Find a full breakdown of the rankings on the ICCA website.  

“Amsterdam Marketing has worked hard over the past few years to maintain the city’s position as a premier conference location with a relatively low budget, especially when compared with the budgets of other national and international conference locations,” said Frans van der Avert, CEO of Amsterdam Marketing. “The ICCA ranking demonstrates that our efforts have produced real results – something to be proud of.”

Conferences in Amsterdam a boon for business

Amsterdam has sought to host conferences not just for the glory of rankings, but because of the great economic and social impact these meetings have on the city. Conferences generate income through tourist taxes, as well as a large number of jobs in the hospitality and transportation industries. The tourists contribute to the city’s income, too: overnight conference attendees spend an average of €237.10 per person per day, which is 50% more than leisure tourists spend on a daily basis. Find more statistics about Amsterdam's conferences on our key figures page

Because most conferences take place in venues outside of the city centre, tourists are spread to less populous neighbourhoods in Amsterdam, putting less pressure on the already busy city centre. RAI Amsterdam, located in Amsterdam Zuid, is one of the most popular conference locations and takes part in the intensive bidding process that is involved in becoming a conference destination.

“RAI Amsterdam has also had a solid year, with more international conferences than in 2015,” said Maurits van der Sluis, COO of RAI Amsterdam. “The conference visitor is an important guest for Amsterdam.”

In 2016, RAI Amsterdam hosted 52 international conferences, generating about half a billion euros and 7,000 jobs in Amsterdam.

Each year, the ICCA analyses the number of annual conferences that rotate between at least three countries; ICCA rankings therefore cover 10-15% of the total MICE market in Amsterdam.