August 12, 2020

According to the annual meetings statistics report*, published by the Union of International Associations in July, Finland is the most popular Nordic country for hosting international congresses. Finland ranks number 12, the top three countries being Singapore, Belgium and South Korea. The Finnish capital Helsinki also beats its Nordic neighbours and takes the 12th spot in the city ranking.

In July, Union of International Associations (UIA) published the 61st edition of the International Meetings Statistics Report, which presents comparative tables on the international meetings of international organizations in 2019.

In the 2019 ranking of the most popular congress destinations, Finland ranks number 12 in the global comparison, and reaches the 7th spot in the European ranking. The other Nordic countries also prosper in the comparison: Norway reaching the 18th place, Sweden on the 19th position and Denmark ranking 22nd. In the category of most popular congress cities, Helsinki took the 12th spot and holds its position as the most popular congress city in the Nordics. Stockholm ranks number 16, Copenhagen is on the 19th spot, and Oslo is ranked 21st. The report includes data from 161 countries and 1251 cities.

“Finland has ranked among the top 20 most popular congress destinations for many years in a row. Our reputation as a functional and reliable host country, as well as leading universities, specialised hospitals and research institutes help attract international congresses to Finland”, says Ines Antti-Poika, the head of Finland Convention Bureau.

Year 2019 will remain a threshold for some time

According to the report, 12 472 international meetings took place in 2019. The report does not include corporate meetings or other corporate events. Almost half of the international meetings took place in Europe, while Asia’s share of the meetings is increasing. Finland’s share of all international meetings globally is 2.4 %.

Since 1960, UIA has prepared statistics on the international meetings that have taken place worldwide in the preceding year.

“The record-breaking year 2019 will most probably remain a threshold for some time now. In 2019, Finland reached the best ever year in terms of both congresses and participants. The financial impact of meetings is significant, and the losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic are remarkable”, continues Ines Antti-Poika.

The number of congresses has remained relatively stable during the past 20 years. The congresses planned for 2020 have either been postponed, or carried out in a virtual form. The recovery of the industry is expected to reach the 2019 levels earliest in 2023 (Tourism Economics & Strategic Alliance of the National Convention Bureaux in Europe, 2020). There are, however, confirmed events for Finland for the upcoming years, which brings confidence to the future. Helsinki will host large medical meetings, like the European Stroke Organisation Conference ESOC (4 500 participants) and the World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care EAPC (3 000 delegates) in 2021. Other university cities in Finland have also won bids for future meetings in several fields of research in their respective cities.


* UIA.org / 61st International Meetings Statistics Report, July 2020