Brussels, Washington DC, Dubai and Singapore are the most attractive cities to base international associations, with almost 30 per cent of all association offices opened in these destinations last year.

The presence of an international association usually a nonprofit organisation seeking to further a particular profession, with a membership of academic and corporate thought leaders – significantly reinforces a city’s key knowledge clusters and priority growth areas, as well as bringing economic benefits.

Unsurprisingly, these four destinations have invested significant amounts to attract and host international associations; all four cities make up the Global Associations Hub Partnership (GAHP), an initiative started in October 2015 to help associations pursue international expansion.

In the last 12 months, 35 associations have opened offices in GAHP cities, out of 119 office openings worldwide, according to the Union of International Associations (UIA) 2017 report. GAHP cities are now home to almost 10 per cent (9.6 per cent) of association headquarters and regional offices, but they are welcoming new associations at a rate almost three times faster than the international average.

As such, Brussels, Dubai, Singapore and Washington DC are being recognised by the associations as hubs for their sector in their respective regions of the world: Europe, Middle East, Asia and North America. The benefits are both knowledge-based and economic.

Steen Jakobsen, director of Dubai Business Events, said: “The Dubai government is fully committed to its economic diversification strategies, and associations play an important role in realising these agendas. In the past three years, the Dubai Association Centre has facilitated the opening of fully-operational offices or chapters to 42 associations. These successes have been possible through the innovative approaches encouraged and applied by government initiatives.”

Melissa Riley, VP convention sales and services, Destination DC, added: “In the US, being in Washington DC is looked upon as being a thought-leader. There is a direct correlation between think-tanks and the start-up culture in areas such as medical, biotech and pharma, technology, education, and other high priority sectors supported by the city government. Meetings and tourism are more than ever seen as an economic driver that fosters innovation and job creation, and adds to the economic impact of our tech hub.”

The 2013 Survey of the Federation of European & International Associations based in Belgium (FAIB) highlights the growing economic importance of international associations for the Brussels Capital Region, both as job providers and as contributors to the local GDP.

Its findings showed that associations boost inbound tourism, generating some 114,000 day visits to Belgium & approximately 260,000 overnights per year.

International nonprofit associations (INPAs) had a total estimated annual income of €2.9 billion 84% from abroad, 11% from Belgium, and 5% from the EU. Their total estimated expenditure was €2.9 billion, of which 84% was spent in Belgium, mainly on personnel (56%).

Indeed, INPAs were credited with directly employing an estimated 31,400 people, including volunteers, as well as supporting indirect employment (such as hotel, restaurant, service providers) at a rate of +/- 1.250 per association / year.

Hervé Bosquet, GAHP international advisor, said: “The trend of associations growing and expanding internationally is very clear, and the global metropolitan hubs that our members represent are clearly well-positioned to respond to these developments. The GAHP partnership is going from strength to strength, and these latest figures demonstrate a healthy growth as well as confirming our members positions as the preferred hubs for their regions.”

Some 25 associations now use two or more GAHP cities as a regional base. The International Union of Public Transport (UITP), the International Trade Mark Association (INTA) and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) have offices in three GAHP hubs.


(via Association Hubs, AMI)