Vancouver Sun

Vancouver gets top marks for host­ing in­ter­na­tional meet­ings

City gar­ners praise for its fa­cil­i­ties and strate­gic mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives

- CHUCK CHI­ANG chchi­ang@post­

Vancouver has been named in two in­dus­try rank­ings as one of the top North Amer­i­can des­ti­na­tions for in­ter­na­tional meet­ings.

Am­s­ter­dam’s In­ter­na­tional Congress and Con­ven­tion As­so­ci­a­tion and Kansas City-based Watkins Re­search Group both heaped praise on Vancouver, cit­ing fa­cil­i­ties and strate­gic mar­ket­ing as the city’s ma­jor strengths.

The ICCA rank­ing is based on the to­tal num­ber of in­ter­na­tional meet­ings held in a city last year. Vancouver, with 78, ranked 29th over­all and first among North Amer­i­can cities. The top four cities are all lo­cated in Europe: Berlin, Paris, Vienna and Barcelona, Spain. Sin­ga­pore, sev­enth, is the top Asian des­ti­na­tion.

“To get that des­ig­na­tion from the ICCA, that’s a real sell­ing fea­ture for us,” said Dave Ga­z­ley, a vi­cepres­i­dent at Tourism Vancouver. “In­ter­na­tional meet­ings are great be­cause del­e­gates stay longer … They will plan years in ad­vance and bring their fam­ily. They may go out to Kelowna, Whistler, Victoria and re­ally ex­pe­ri­ence Vancouver and B.C., be­cause they’ve come all this way.”

The Watkins re­port, a sur­vey based on global con­ven­tion or­ga­niz­ers’ opin­ions, in­ten­tions and ex­pe­ri­ences, had Vancouver plac­ing sec­ond among 40 North Amer­i­can cities, and tops in Canada. The city ranked first in four cat­e­gories: con­ven­tion cen­tre fa­cil­i­ties, con­ven­tion cen­tre ser­vices, des­ti­na­tion safety and se­cu­rity, and con­ven­tion and vis­i­tors bureau mar­ket­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The Vancouver Con­ven­tion Cen­tre hosted 557 events in 2015, and book­ings in 2016 con­tinue to be strong. Book­ings for the con­ven­tion cen­tre now firmly stretch out to 2026, with ad­di­tional ten­ta­tive book­ings out to 2028.

“We’ve made an ac­tive ef­fort in that re­gard be­cause we’ve found that in­ter­na­tional del­e­gates spend more when they are in the city,” said Craig Le­hto, gen­eral man­ager of the Vancouver Con­ven­tion Cen­tre. “These rank­ings get peo­ple’s at­ten­tion, and the num­ber of peo­ple re­ceiv­ing them is sub­stan­tial … It val­i­dates the ef­forts we’ve made col­lec­tively.”

The global mar­ket for in­ter­na­tional meet­ings con­tin­ues to be on the rise. Ac­cord­ing to ICCA, the num­ber of such con­ven­tions grew from 8,294 in 2009 to 12,076 last year. The same re­port showed Canada on the rise, en­ter­ing the top-10 among most pop­u­lar con­ven­tion des­ti­na­tions by coun­try last year.

Vancouver saw a record-break­ing 9.4 mil­lion vis­i­tors last year.

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