Monaco’s Minister of State: “I know I can count on you”

Pierre Dartout, Monaco’s second highest authority, has given his annual address to the main players in his government, commending how the Principality has been able to maintain its quality of life despite the international upheavals.

The traditional new year address was held on Thursday 12th January. Surrounded by members of the Prince’s Government, Pierre Dartout gave a message of optimism and vigilance to the senior officials of his administration, speaking of a particularly “anxious” international context due to the war in Ukraine and its consequences, particularly on inflation, as well increasingly frequent climatic events.

“In this context, the Principality of Monaco has been able to maintain its level of quality of life and the competitiveness of its economy,” said the Minister of State. “This dynamism has resulted in the continuation of our policies which are shaping the Monaco of tomorrow, with a special mention of the delivery of state housing ahead of the schedule announced in 2019.”

The minister talked about the transport challenges within Monaco and the State’s determination to “open up” the Principality and make the movement of residents and commuters more fluid. “This has a direct impact on our attractiveness, but in this area, unfortunately, we do not have a magic wand and the solutions will have to be found in consultation with France,” he said.

On the international level, 2023 will be “a decisive but not definitive year for the negotiations of the association agreement with the European Union,” continued Dartout. “We are conducting these discussions, guided by the higher interests of the Principality, in compliance with the lignes rouges laid down by the Sovereign Prince.”

The minister touched on the “essential and timely” budget reform, and the implementation of a new status of civil servants.

After setting out the educational, health and security missions of the State that he wished to be reinforced in 2023, Pierre Dartout concluded the annual meeting with a call to action: “I am happy to be able to count on your availability, your motivation and your commitment, which are essential for the cohesion of the country. Alongside a dynamic private sector, we need a strong State that knows how to regulate and implement major public action policies. I know I can count on you”.

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Photo credit: Manuel Vitali, Government Communication Department

Tourist taxes boost French Riviera coffers

Airbnb paid the city of Nice €2.4 million in taxes last year, and almost €150 million to the entire country, as tourists returned in droves. Meanwhile, airlines are rushing to add flights to the US amid a boost in post-Covid travel.

The good times are back for the French hospitality industry if the latest reports from accommodation platform Airbnb are any indicators. The company has revealed it paid €148 million in tourist taxes to France in 2022, up 60% on the previous year.  

In France, tourist tax is paid by vacationers in addition to the price of accommodation given to the landlord, the hotelier or the owner, who then transfers it to the municipality. Its community-set level is between 1% to 5% of the nightly price, excluding tax, per person. 

Nice was the third biggest recipient of the tax benefit, receiving €2.4 million between November 2021 and October 2022. Only Paris, who beat all other municipalities by a country mile with €24.3 million, and Marseille who saw €2.8 million, got more.  

Other notable cities and towns in the region who got their piece of the pie were Cannes with €1.8 million, Antibes with €860,000, and Menton, which received €340,000. 

“These major cities thus benefit from the return of international travellers and major events, which again attract travellers to their territory,” said the platform, whose largest turnover in France is second in the world only to the United States.  

And it wasn’t just the big cities who collected. Nearly 30% of the tourist tax accumulated in France in 2022 was collected in rural municipalities with less than 3,500 inhabitants, roughly the same as in 2021. 

The airlines are also getting in on the game, with a number of new connections between France and the States rolling out this year. JetBlue, Norse Atlantic, French Bee and Air France as well as Delta, United and American are all are counting on the tourist trade to continue on this trend.   

On North Atlantic routes last summer, Air France reached a higher level of activity than summer 2019 in available seat-kilometres, a benchmark in the industry, with an 88% occupancy rate. Delta also reported a 12% higher profit margin than 2019, and United had 20% more passengers than that same year.   

This has all been in the midst of exploding fuel costs, which have pushed ticket prices up, though this clearly has not deterred travellers who are itching to get away, particularly to France. 

 

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Photo by Monaco Life

Get a box of Monaco oranges for free!

The annual collection of fruit from the Principality’s bitter orange trees is set to start Monday, and they are all up for grabs so find a box and get ready to take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity! 

The gardeners from the Department of Urban Development (DAU) have the same task every year, with winter the ideal time to cut back Monaco’s nearly 1,000 citrus trees. But before they prune, they pick the fruit and offer it up to the public.  

Starting 16th January, the 566 bitter orange trees, known locally as bigarades, that grow along the various streets of the Condamine, Moneghetti and Monte Carlo neigbourhoods will be harvested and all anyone needs to do in order to take home some of these lovely fruits is to ask a gardener on site.  

In 2022, 1.3 tonnes of a 7.6-tonne yield were given away for free, including a nice delivery made to the Lycée Technique et Hôtelier de Monaco, whose students turned the raw fruit into delicious jams and fruit roll ups. Other ways to use bitter oranges are as a juice, tea, marmalade or marinade.  

The picking schedule runs from 8am to noon, then 2pm to 3.30pm. In the Condamine, they will start on Rue Princesse Caroline from 16th to 26th January, before moving onto Rue Grimaldi from 30th January to 10th February. From 16th to 27th January, the harvest will also be on in Moneghetti on the Boulevard de Belgique. Monte Carlo’s times will run from 16th to 20th January on Avenue de Grande Bretagne, and from 23rd to 27th January on Boulevard de Suisse and Boulevard d’Italie.  

Harvesting is subject to weather and the progress being made by the DAU. For more information, call +377 98 98 22 77. 

 

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Photo source: Jason Richard for Unsplash

An “Oceano for All”: school projects in line for €5,000 prize

Monaco’s Oceanographic Institute initiative to promote ocean protection has rallied 600 schoolchildren around the world with a competition to launch awareness projects. The winning concepts are in line for €5,000.  

The Oceano for All competition, or Oceano Pour Tous, has reached out to 25 schools in Monaco, France and further afield, calling on students to think creatively about ways to improve the environment, notably with regard the seas, in line with the international goals. 

The event has been held since 2014, in collaboration with the Fondation Princesse Charlene, the National French Education body and the Department for Education, Youth and Sports in Monaco, but has been previously reserved for older pupils. Now it is speaking to middle schools within the goal of inspiring awareness and action amongst the younger generation.  

“With Oceano for All, we support young people in the realisation of collective projects in connection with the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations,” says Robert Calcagno, Director General of the Institute. “It’s about training and supporting the citizens of tomorrow in their commitment to the ocean!”  

The selected schools, of which Monaco’s College FANB and College Charles III are participants, are benefiting from specialised workshops in scientific and cultural mediation throughout the school year on pertinent topics as well as from videos, quizzes and thematic papers to help them on their journey.  

“In order for students to become true ambassadors of the ocean and to be able to realise their projects, we are going to offer innovative and interactive tools on the discovery of ecosystems and their biodiversity, understanding of the role of the ocean in climate regulation, and analysis of the impacts of human activities,” says Tiziana Caporale, the head of the institute’s Activity and Education department. 

The competition is currently in its first stage, which runs until 30th March, during which the students define and set up their projects. On 31st March, they will be expected to have a video and presentation prepared to submit.   

From 11th to 19th April, a panel of jurists will choose the most impactful projects. Finally on 13th June, an award ceremony at the Oceanographic Museum will be held to publicly recognise the winners.  

Prizes are a two-day stay in the Principality and two grants of €5,000, which will be given to the winning classes.  

“With the aim of inspiring the commitment of other young people, the Oceanographic Institute will also offer support to all classes to help them achieve their long-term projects,” say organisers.  

 

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Photo source: visitmonaco.com

Strikes ahead: Transport and energy industries join mass protests against pension reform

France will grind to a halt next week as workers across the country – now joined by those from the transport and energy sectors – strike against the government’s planned reforms to its pensions system.  

Thursday 19th January will see some of the most pervasive strikes in France in recent years as thousands, if not millions, of workers protest against the recently unveiled proposals to overhaul the French pensions system.  

Within hours of the announcement by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Tuesday 10th January, eight of the country’s biggest unions had declared their intentions to go on strike, and now they have been joined by workers from the transport and energy industries.  

Oil refinery workers, which include those from TotalEnergies and Esso-ExxonMobil, have announced a series of increasingly disruptive strikes – 24 hours of action on 19th January, 48 hours from 26th January, and a 72-hour walkout from 6th February – that could replicate the mass shortages and queues at petrol stations experienced across the country just a few months ago. 

A collaborative statement from the unions representing SNCF rail workers (CGT, UNSA, SUD Rail and CFDT) has revealed their position of “total opposition to the increase in the legal retirement age to 64 years”, although their role in the strikes is yet to be confirmed. The CGT-RATP has said, for its part, that the objective is to ensure there is “zero transport” on the first day on industrial action.  

Many workers in both the energy and transport sector have traditionally benefited from “special regimes” that allow them to retire earlier than other occupations. This will end if France’s proposed plans make it through parliament.  

Rumours that teachers, hospital staff and even those within the Ministry for Foreign Affairs may walkout next week have also begun to spread. 

 

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Photo by Monaco Life

Roca Team crumble in Serbian cauldron

AS Monaco Basketball were dominated from start to finish by Red Star Belgrade in a disappointing result that leaves Sasa Obradovic’s men lose their Euroleague table-topping position. 

Just 48 hours after an enthralling win over Olympiacos at the Salle Gaston Médecin, the Roca Team made the trip to Belgrade on Thursday to face Obardovic’s former team – Red Star.

At the home of Red Star, known as ‘the cauldron’, Monaco seemed burned out. Their exploit against Olympiacos had clearly taken its toll and the side failed to match their opponent’s intensity. Red Star began with a flurry, creating a break (11-23), that was never recovered.

Monaco struggled in their build-up, but could still count on the efficiency of  Mike James (26 points) to keep them in the tie. Often that is enough, but not against Red Star, who didn’t lift off the accelerator, continuing their barrage and their way to winning each quarter, and securing a comfortable victory (92-68) that consolidates their place in the mid-table.

Monaco’s John Brown III regretted the side’s slow start to the encounter. “It was too hard to come back with such a big points gap. We made the effort, but ultimately it wasn’t good enough. We need to get back to Monaco, get back to work and move forward as quickly as possible,” he said.

Yakuba Ouattara steals late Monaco victory

The Roca Team were looking to bounce back in the Betclic Elite on Sunday, and they did so against a stern Cholet side, who prior to the match had been unbeaten at home since the start of the season.

Cholet, a major rival in this year’s championship looked like retaining their invincibility, but having been led for much of the match, Monaco fought back. Then, with just four seconds left on the clock, Obradovic’s men executed the pivotal play, James finding Ouattara, who beat his man, strode into the key and made the crucial T2 attempt to secure a narrow, one-point victory (88-89).

Monaco are now outright leaders of the French division, one win ahead of Boulogne-Levallois and two wins above Sunday’s opponent – Cholet. The Principality’s basketball side next face a tough Euroleague trip to Turkey, where they will face Fenerbahçe.

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Photo by AS Monaco Basket