Germany has long since become an attractive location for international congresses and meetings. Last year, the country came second after the United States in the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) ranking for the thirteenth consecutive time. And Hamburg also has plenty to boast. “Hamburg tops the list of cities in Germany ahead of Frankfurt am Main, Leipzig, Stuttgart and many other destinations that secured many international, rotating association and federation congresses in 2016,” said Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the German Convention Bureau e.V. (GCB).
Global response to opening of Elbphilharmonie
The GCB is tasked with positioning Germany as a leading, international destination for congresses and meetings and expanding and securing this status. Schultze has a clear overview of congress locations throughout Germany. Asked about key success factors, Schultze pointed to good infrastructure, attractive price-performance ratios and especially regional economic and scientific skills that give organisers connecting points for suitable meetings and congresses. “These success factors also apply to Hamburg: international event planners value distinguishing features such as Hamburg’s maritime industry, media and IT, civil aviation, logistic services and the creative industry.” The Elbphilharmonie has also boosted Hamburg’s image enormously, he noted, adding: “The opening of the impressive building was an international media event which met with a great global response in the congress and meetings sector’s trade press.”
CCH to reopen in 2019 on international scale
The reopening of the refurbished Congress Centrums Hamburg (CCH) is likely to be yet another milestone on Hamburg’s international path. In 2019, CCH will become a venue for large-scale events and will merge its successful 40-year history with demands of the 21st century. Hamburg will then have a top international congress centre with 12,000 square metres of exhibition space, a 12,000 square metre lobby and 12,000 seats in up to 50 halls making CCH one of Europe’s biggest congress centres in the middle of dynamic Hamburg.
Congresses and meetings in arts and culture
A mere three kilometres from the Elbphilharmonie, exhibitors and visitors at CCH and Hamburg Messe will benefit from the downtown location in short walking distance to railway stations, hotels as well as a vibrant cultural and artistic scene. As a location of museums and as a bastion for people and companies in the cultural scene, “Hamburg plays an important role in meetings and congresses related to arts and culture,” said Schultze. And in September, the “Lebendige Stadt” Foundation held its annual congress under the theme “Culture meets urban development” in Hamburg, he pointed out. “And in June, the world’s biggest international symposium on ‘Performance Studies International’ was also held in Hamburg.” Thus culture and congresses enhance each other in Hamburg.
Business travellers spend more
Hamburg enjoys diverse, multiple benefits as an attractive place for meetings and congresses. Commenting on the figures, Schultze said: “The analysis of international travel flows give some indication of the importance of the congress and meetings segment. In 2016, around 28 per cent of all overseas journeys to Germany were in business travel which corresponds to around 2 million journeys.” Referring to figures by the German National Tourist Board and the IPK International and World Travel Monitor, Schultze added: “Around 32 per cent (4 million) of a total 12.7 million trips to Germany by European business people in 2016 were for congresses and conferences. The segment has witnessed growth of 9 per cent and is proving a monitor of the business travel market.” Apart from organisers, the hotel and catering sector as well as local retailers can also profit from this development. Schulze noted: “Business travellers generally spend more than leisure tourists.”
Growing importance of congresses and meetings in overall tourism
The Hamburg Convention Bureau GmbH keeps a close eye on figures in the Meetings, Incentives, and Conventions, Events (MICE) sector. According to its latest study of the congress and meetings market presented in August, overnight stays have risen from 2.3 million in 2013 to 3 million in 2016 bringing the potential monetary value to around EUR 706.5 million. Commenting on the upswing, Michael Otremba, Managing Director of Hamburg Convention Bureau GmbH, said: “It’s very positive that the meetings and congress segment is playing an ever growing role in Hamburg’s tourism overall. The MICE sector thus brings not only monetary value to the city, but is also contributing to Hamburg’s further economic and scientific development and in terms of the quality of life. We have a very committed local MICE sector, and are dedicated to strengthening Hamburg. The available data shows that this commitment is bearing fruit for our city.”