(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) The sultanate's hospitality sector is getting a boost with experts saying more citizens are joining the industry. The sector is witnessing good growth, providing more opportunities for talented Omanis.
According to National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) figures, the number of guests at four and five star hotels in Oman has increased by 22.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same period last year.
Robert MacLean, principal, National Hospitality Institute (NHI), said, ''We have to remember that one of the key attractions of Oman is its culture. When tourists come to Oman they want to see some evidence of this culture in the hotels they are staying. It is therefore essential for the ministries of Tourism, and Manpower and institutes to work together to support training and development for providing a unique hospitality workforce in the Gulf region.''
MacLean said that the industry offers a great opportunity for job seekers. ''There is a fantastic choice of hotels that offer employment opportunities. In addition, we are only an hour's flight away from Dubai, which has some of the worlds best hotels for young Omanis to gain experience before they come back to Oman.
''The skills gained by working in the hospitality industry have proved to be a great way of developing people even when they shift to other industries such as retail, tourism and customer service where the core skills of attitude and discipline from this sector can be utilised well.''
He said that employers are keen to promote Omanis wherever possible and ''you now see many of them in senior or supervisory positions in the hospitality industry''.
''The good news is that most of these successful Omanis have come up through the ranks and have a good understanding of the business. Our former student, Hamed al Rashdi is now the general manager of Jiwera Hotel in Salalah, another student Mohammed Mallalah is the executive housekeeper at Crowne Plaza, Jamal al Balushi is restaurant manager in Al Angam at the Royal Opera House Muscat and there are many more.''
Managers of top hotels in Muscat echoed MacLean's views. Bernard N Viola, general manager, Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel said, ''We see it as part of our responsibility to preserve the culture of the country. We are committed to enhancing lives, well-being and career prospects of our Omani employees. Our government is committed to their growth and we wish them success within the company.
''Last year, we reinforced our commitment to strengthen the Omani workforce and develop talent within the industry with the launch of the Al Bustan Palace Hospitality Academy under the patronage of H E Maitha al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary, Ministry of Tourism. The academy is designed to host talented young Omani through a dedicated training programme with courses focusing on leadership and soft skills, culinary skills, basic hospitality-specific training and professional certifications covering an array of disciplines.''
Meanwhile, Markus Iseli, general manager, The Chedi, Muscat, said, ''One of my top priorities is reinforcement of the local workforce. Guests coming from Europe want to experience the local culture. If you are coming to this part of the world, the local people can tell you more about the city, the food, and the products that are produced here, which I believe enhances guests' experience.
''We have internally identified high-potential Omanis who we want to put on a fast track so that they can become managers of tomorrow. These people will be trained and eventually sent to Switzerland on a scholarship to show the commitment that we have as a company to Omanisation and to not only hire, but also retain local workforce. We would like to become an employer of choice,'' Ise