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Embassy Barometer – Embassy 22 – January 2010

Are Embassy receptions a waste of money?

Yes 13%
No 87%

Envoys need parties

Diplomatic receptions are "essential tools of the trade" and not a waste of money, the latest Embassy survey has revealed.

In the poll, a large majority of respondents (87 per cent) said embassy parties offered good value for money, while a minority (13 per cent) said they wasted resources.

The Embassy Barometer was conducted in response to recent reports in the media alleging that the publication of a Freedom of Information report into the entertainment expenses of British embassies had been quashed by the Foreign Office, fearing that it would cause a public outcry.

However, London's diplomats rose to the defence of embassy receptions, saying they were a good way to make contacts.

As one European Ambassador told Embassy: "They create a good ambience and are a cost-effective way for the diplomatic community to network."

An African Deputy High Commissioner said parties were a great way to "showcase" a country but added that the challenges of the global recession needed to be weighed against the costs of hosting receptions.

An EU envoy said that in leaner times, missions needed to be more creative and that receptions did not have to "cost a bomb".

A Caribbean High Commissioner concurred, saying during the credit crunch missions needed to balance the "cost, frequency and significance of the reception."

Of the detractors, one diplomat said: "I think many embassy receptions are a waste of money. Every once in a while, however, there is a nugget of goodness, so I'd hate to see them go away entirely."
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