There were no surprises in the 2021/2022 accounts for Société des bains de mer, Monaco’s casino operator and dominant hotel provider.

As the pandemic and its restrictions loosened their grip, turnover in 2021/2022 rose to 530.5 million euros from 336.9 million in the previous year. It should be noted that April, May and June 2021 – the first quarter of the financial year – were still badly affected by coronavirus.

The shareholders’ meeting on September 23 considered results up to the end of March this year, but it became clear over this summer that SBM is on course for a record year due to an upsurge in tourism during the summer.

However, SBM is grappling with a problem shared all along the Riviera, which is a shortage of staff. The root cause of this problem is the fact that during coronavirus lockdowns many restaurant and hotel workers switched occupations and did not return.

The problem became so acute during the summer months that SBM was obliged “to have some closures,” SBM President Jean-Luc Biamonti told the press following the shareholders’ meeting on Friday.

“We couldn’t open all the time as we would have liked,” he said in particular reference to the Em Sherif Lebanese restaurant in the Hotel de Paris.

SBM is determined to be proactive in attracting summer staff in coming high seasons.

“It’s a tough job,” Mr Biamanti said, referring to restaurant and hotel work. “We have to make our summer staff welcome.”

Meanwhile, the Principality’s international promotional efforts are paying dividends, more than making up for the drop in the number of visitors from eastern Europe, Mr Biamonti said.

There has been a big increase in visitors from the Middle East, while more north Americans are returning.

PHOTO: Jean-Luc Biamonti at the press conference at the Monte-Carlo Bay Ian Brodie