The German meetings industry is growing, with a total of 393m participants attending events held in the country last year – an increase of 2.6% from the previous year. The number of international visitors rose significantly last year by 8.3% to 27.7m and the number of international visitors travelling to events has almost doubled in 10 years (2006:14.3m).
The figures, released at IMEX Frankfurt this week, come from the Meeting & EventBarometer 2016, the only study of its kind examining both the conference and event sector in Germany. The initiators are the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC), the German Convention Bureau (GCB) and the German National Tourist Board (GNTB).
“The importance of international trade events and conferences is increasing. As the most significant location for meetings and conferences in Europe and the most important location for trade events, Germany is well placed to meet this development. In 2015 European journeys to meetings and conferences in Germany rose by 8%. This is a clear confirmation of the high-quality service offered by the German meetings industry,” said Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB).
In response to the significant increase in international visitors, the GCB has developed an internationalisation strategy which includes co-operation with the GNTB last year to open a representative office in Beijing in addition to its established office in New York.
“Alongside value for money and excellent infrastructure, areas of scientific and economic expertise are increasingly becoming crucial considerations for planners and important tools for attracting international participants,” said GCB managing director Matthias Schultze.
Germany’s supply remained relatively stable last year despite growing demand at home and abroad: 7,208 event centres, conference hotels and event locations, each with seating for at least 100 people in their largest room, indicate a moderate increase of 0.8% compared to 2014. The number of events likewise remained relatively constant at 3.06m (an increase of 0.7%).
By far the most important type of event at German venues were conferences, meetings and seminars, accounting for 52.1% and an increase of 2.5 percentage points. There was also a slight overall increase in the average number of participants at German events.
Nearly half (46.9%) of suppliers and 60% of organisers have a positive view of the future development of the meetings industry. Nearly all (91.3% of providers and 89.6% of organisers) believe that the development in their own organisation will remain the same or improve.
“Despite the good figures we must not forget that we are dependent on economic and social developments in Germany and the world. The mood at the present time is somewhat subdued and this will undoubtedly have an effect on our industry,” said Joachim König, president of the European Association of Event Centres.