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‘Friendly’ cities attract more association headquarters, claims GAHP

Cities that create a ‘business-friendly’ environment for international associations will find more of them opening offices – including regional headquarters – within their vicinity.

The Global Association Hubs Partnership – made up of Brussels, Washington, Singapore and Dubai – says its members are proof the strategy of creating association ‘hubs’ pays dividends.

The latest 2019 data from UIA (Union of Interational Associations) on the locations of international association offices makes good reading for each of the GAHP members.

In aggregate, Brussels, Dubai, Singapore and Washington DC are the chosen host destinations for almost 10 per cent of all international association offices worldwide.

Whilst Brussels and Washington DC have long been destinations of choice for associations, Singapore and Dubai have ‘dramatically increased’ regional market share over the last 15 years.

Dubai, which was home to 16 offices in 2006 compared to 42 in 2019, has since its regional market share lift from 2.27% to 6.15%. Singapore, now home to 224 headquarters of regional offices, has seen its regional market share grow from 5.88% in 2006 to 7.49% today.

This, according to the GAHP, reflects, the ‘proactive decision by both cities to attract regional offices for international associations, especially those operating in fields that represent high priorities in terms of long-term economic and societal development’.

In GAHP cities, associations not only benefit from strong support services from city agencies, they can take advantage of association-friendly business eco-systems that have evolved to serve their needs, and have access to the deepest pools of skilled, association-experienced staff.

GAHP international adviser, Martin Sirk, said: “Our cities have recognised that in this ever-more competitive business environment facing international associations, they require assistance that goes far beyond helping to host their meetings.

“But once an association is embedded within a city’s eco-system and utilising local services in a region-wide manner, they will be naturally inclined to bring more of their strategically important meetings to their ‘home’ destination as well. There are both short-term and long-term benefits from offering a more comprehensive partnership.”