Istanbul’s profile as an international business hub goes up a notch

Istanbul’s appeal to international firms as a place to meet and do business is going from strength to strength, according to new research that ranks it the eighth most popular city in the world to hold a congress.

New rankings based on the number of events held in 2013, compiled by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), puts Istanbul one place higher than its ninth position in 2012 and just one place behind London in seventh. Istanbul was host to a reported 146 congresses in 2013, representing a 14 per cent rise in comparison to 2012, when the city held 128 events.

Istanbul’s eighth place puts it ahead of Lisbon, Seoul, Prague, Amsterdam, Dublin, Rome and even Brussels, which are all in the top 20 of the ICCA 2013 rankings.

Istanbul’s rapidly expanding flight network linking it with major economic hubs and cities around the world is contributing to its growing international status. Only this month Qatar Airways announced the launch of direct flights to its third destination in Turkey, namely Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport, where Air Malta has also launched new direct flights.

ICCA CEO Martin Sirk: “It shouldn’t be surprising that our 2013 figures have demonstrated the strength of the international association meetings sector, since the overall picture for our industry is significantly better than has been the case for quite some time. But it should be remembered that this is a sector that has shown significant growth in every single year since the financial crisis hit the world economy in 2008. The international association meetings sector is a solid, reliable performer, in good times and bad, and the longer term trends are the most critically important factors when preparing strategic plans and investment decisions.”