Universal Foundation announces new Discover Hospitality batch

Universal Foundation has once again teamed up with Villa College to launch a new bath of its Discover Hospitality programme.

Universal Foundation’s President Iyaz Waheed and Villa College’s Rector Dr Ahmed Anwar signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Sunday.

A total of 40 slots will be offered in this year’s course, with applications accepted by February 22.

The Discover Hospitality programme was launched in 2017 as a joint initiative by Universal Foundation, the charity arm of one of the largest local conglomerates, Universal Enterprises, and privately run Villa College.

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

Sixty-five students in three batches have completed the programme.

The Maldives’ tourism industry has greatly expanded over the past 45 years, becoming the country’s main economic activity and the biggest employer.

Over the past decade, 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 over 150. That number is set to increase as the government has announced the opening of some 13 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 500 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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