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‘Is it a bloody blow for several MICE services and suppliers?’ commented a planner listening to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s mid-term budget speech in Parliament yesterday.

The announcement more than intimated as from December, event expenditure and in particular use of external venues will be curtailed in favour of internal facilities. This was in the same sentence as the elimination of government credit cards, first class travel and hyper-luxury accommodation for all but a very few.

The Academy’s research has shown that the public sector’s MICE Mix Spend concentrates primarily on travel, accommodation and at times questionable entertainers and outsourced organisers. Unless on a preferred suppliers list through the Public Works Department, event spend on staging, décor, audio visual as well as high-tech voting and registration systems are minimal in comparison to the wide range of usually luxury hospitality spend.

Be that as it may, medium to high capacity venues are likely to feel the chilly winds of reduced bookings from the public sector albeit that this sector is around 15% of the nation’s MICE spend. In some circles however a sigh of relief could be heard from venue managers who have waited more than a hundred and plenty days for final payment.

Time will indeed tell.

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