California, Texas, and Illinois take the top three spots.
Global DMC Partners, the largest global network of independent Destination Management Companies (DMCs) and specialized event service providers, has unveiled its 2023 Global Destination Index, highlighting the most popular meeting and incentive destinations around the world. The listing was compiled based on both booked and pending business across GDP’s DMC partners worldwide.
“Our industry consistently serves as a robust gauge of global economic vitality,” shared Global DMC Partners President & CEO Catherine Chaulet. “Upon examining these destinations, it becomes evident that business activities are thriving across the world, in contrast to the narratives frequently presented in the news. The MICE industry serves as an exemplary testament to this fact, underscoring the importance of monitoring the choices made by planners when it comes to destination selection.”
The Top 10 MICE Destinations for 2023—both by U.S. state and by non-U.S. country—ranked as follows:
Top 10 U.S. Destinations
- California (Palm Springs, San Diego)
- Texas (Austin, Dallas)
- Illinois (Chicago)
- New York (New York City)
- Colorado (Denver)
- Florida (Miami, Orlando)
- Washington, D.C.
- Arizona (Scottsdale, Phoenix)
- Louisiana (New Orleans)
- South Carolina (Palmetto Bluff)
Top 10 International Destinations
- Spain (Barcelona, Madrid)
- Indonesia (Bali)
- France (Paris)
- Costa Rica (Guanacaste)
- Mexico (Punta Mita, Cancun)
- South Africa (Cape Town)
- Greece (Athens)
- England (London)
- Italy (Rome, Milan)
- Vietnam (Hanoi, Da Nang)
“It is lovely to see the far-reaching destinations that have made this year’s list; finally, the world has opened up, giving more opportunities to planners and their attendees,” continued Chaulet. “Demand is at an all-time high, and the destinations in the top 10 are more diverse than in previous years.”
California Tops the U.S. List
On the U.S. side, the “Golden State” of California took home the “gold.” Boasting moderate temperatures, robust activities and diverse landscapes, from mountain to desert to sea, the third-largest state in the union has much to offer planners and their attendees. Major metropolitan cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco continue to attract large-scale programs, and secondary markets such as Palm Springs and San Diego are also stepping into the limelight with their own unique cultural experiences and world-class venues.
“With a wide range of destinations spread out from coastal cities to the deserts of Palm Springs, California brings a level of casual luxury to any type and scale of meeting, ranging from incentives to large conventions,” shared Ana Reilly, Principal and VP Sales & Marketing of Destination Concepts inc., Global DMC Partners’ California-based DMC. “Ours is truly a destination filled with bucket-list experiences!”
Spain Leads the International Market
In this year’s international rankings, an extensive global presence was observed, encompassing nearly every continent, ultimately resulting in Spain achieving the top-ranking non-U.S. position.
“Spain offers excellent air connections and infrastructures as well as a highly professional tourism industry,” shared Antonia Riera Castell, Head of MICE at maximice events group, Global DMC Partners’ Spanish partner. “Spain has it all: amazing regional diversity, sophisticated cities, postcard-worthy beaches, fantastic weather and a high number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Most of all, our gastronomy, offering a perfect blend of classic and avant-garde cuisine, creates unforgettable experiences and all at a very fair price-performance ratio.”
The Rise of Secondary Cities
On both the U.S. and international rankings, a notable new trend is emerging. While some destinations once relied on a single city as the primary magnet for groups, a multitude of secondary locations are gaining prominence, significantly enhancing the overall appeal of various travel destinations.
A prime example can be found in Italy, where the allure of Rome and Milan has long captured the hearts of travelers. However, recent trends indicate a surge in interest in a wide range of secondary destinations within the country. Travelers are increasingly seeking out locations such as Lake Como, Sicily, Genoa, Venice, Puglia, Amalfi Coast and more as part of their Italian experience.
“This shift in travel preferences highlights a transformative aspect of the industry, where the popularity of destinations is no longer solely dependent on a few primary cities,” concluded Chaulet. “Instead, a diverse array of secondary locations is now collectively shaping the travel landscape, offering a rich and multifaceted experience to meeting and event attendees worldwide.”
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