First batch completes Universal’s Discover Hospitality programme

First batch of students has graduated from Universal Foundation’s Discover Hospitality programme.

At a ceremony held at Hotel Jen in capital Male Tuesday morning, 15 students were presented with the certificate for successfully completing the course. A fresh batch of 25 students were also given enrolment letters.

Speaking at the ceremony, Universal Enterprises Chariman Mohamed ‘MU’ Umar Maniku highlighted the need to train young locals to work in the Maldives tourism industry. Universal, which owns and operates the largest collection of resorts in the Maldives, will continue to provide opportunities for more locals to join the industry, he added.

“I’m overjoyed to see so many young faces here, eager to join the industry. This is just the beginning,” Maniku, who is amongst the pioneers of tourism in the Maldives, said.

The Discover Hospitality programme was launched in August as a joint initiative by Universal Foundation, the charity arm of one of the largest local conglomerates Universal Enterprises, and Villa College.

Successful completion of the six-month programme, which combines theory classes at Villa College and on the job training at Universal’s resorts, awards a level three certificate. Graduates can either join the industry or continue to certificate level four, followed by a degree.

The Maldives’ tourism industry has greatly expanded over the past 40 years, becoming the country’s main economic activity and the biggest employer.

Over the past five years, dozens of uninhabited islands have been leased to local and foreign resort developers. Several international brands have entered into the market, increasing the number of resorts to 120. That number is set to increase as the government has announced the opening of some 20 new resorts by the end of this year.

Along with the new resort openings come the challenge of increasing demand from budget travellers who choose guesthouses over luxury resorts that the Maldives is known for. The guesthouse sector has rapidly expanded with over 450 guesthouses in operation today.

With the expansion comes the need to train locals for a range of new jobs that are expected to open up.

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