London cements position as a major international congress destination

London has surged up the global rankings for hosting Association events, securing a top five position for the first time after staging some of the world’s most high profile congresses.

Big Ben skyline

The capital now ranks 5th in the world according to data from the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), up from 19th position in 2011. London has also seen a 27 per cent increase in the number of delegates attending conferences over the last year with more than 117,000 arriving in 2015, making the city number 2 for attendance.

London welcomed a string of high-profile Association events last year, including the European Society of Cardiology congress, which took place over five days and was attended by over 32,700 (32,773) delegates, a new record for the annual event.

2015 also saw the European Federation of Periodontology take place at ExCeL London, which was attended by 9,700 delegates over 3 days, an uplift of 25 per cent compared to the previous year.                                                                                  

The results are the culmination of a multi-faceted strategy established by London’s Convention Bureau (CVB), which is operated by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s promotional company, which aimed to see London in the top five within five years.  By transforming its CVB from venue finding service to event solution provider, London was able to develop closer relationships with partners and stakeholders, from local and national government authorities to hotels and venues, to present solid joint bids to targeted high-profile events. Showcasing London’s areas of expertise as a way to achieve greater return on investment also proved crucial in attracting some of the most prominent congresses.

Tracy Halliwell, MBE, Director of Business Tourism and Major Events at London & Partners added: “Today’s figures are a great Olympic legacy and confirmation of what we’ve known for years, that London is rightly one of the world’s most attractive destinations for event organisers. We have an unrivalled mix of venues, connectivity and infrastructure with more exciting developments in the pipeline including new hotels and the completion of the new Crossrail in 2019.”

James Rees, Executive Director, ExCeL London, said: “London’s rise in the ICCA rankings has coincided with the success of ExCeL’s International Convention Centre (ICC) which opened in 2010 and we are delighted that our work with London & Partners has helped to highlight the city’s ability to deliver, as the statistics show, world-leading conventions with record-breaking delegate numbers. Importantly, the ICC now contributes over £1billion of economic impact annually to London’s economy, a figure set to rise as we attract ever more events in the future.”

This year is set to be another successful one for the capital, with the European Society of Anaesthesiology event taking place next week (28-30 May) and the European League Against Rheumatology, the European Respiratory Society and the European Committee for Treatment and Research on Multiple Sclerosis hosting their events in London later in 2016.

London has also announced that the European Society of Urology will come back to the capital for the first time in almost 30 years for its 2017 congress. The event is expected to bring over 12,000 medical specialists and an estimated £41.7m economic benefit.

Associations can benefit from useful guidance and a range of bespoke resources on offer from London & Partners’ Associations team including a free London Associations Directory, marketing toolkit and a bi-annual association e-newsletter. For more information visit or meet the team at The Meetings Show on stand H500.