Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

Pathways to Professionalism raises service levels at hotels in Aqaba

Aqaba’s hotel sector currently employs over 2,200 people. With five more 4 and 5 star hotels to open in Aqaba by 2023, adding 1,843 rooms to the city’s accommodation offerings, around 2,675 jobs will be created across all levels. To meet the growing demands of the hospitality sector in Jordan, USAID BEST supports the Jordan Hotels Association and Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority to administer an on-the-job training program, Pathways to Professionalism, at hotels in Aqaba, Jordan.

This week, 90 learners, all employees at the Kempinski Red Sea Hotel, Movenpick Resort and Residences Aqaba and Movenpick Resort and Spa Tala Bay graduated from levels two and three of the Pathways to Professionalism program. The program offers on-the-job training for hotel employees at four levels of experience in different departments including food production, housekeeping, food and beverage service, concierge, and front office. Furthermore, it seeks to enhance qualifications of hotel staff and improve service quality and standards in hotels.

Ismail Al Khawajah is a graduate of Pathways to Professionalism Food Production Level 3 at Movenpick Tala Bay. He highlighted the knowledge and confidence his cohort gained in his graduation speech. “The program was a valuable experience for us graduates. We understand more about the high level of service we should provide to guests and the technical methods we should use to make sure we provide excellent service and hospitality…I feel that I have gained knowledge and skills in food preparation, hygiene, and presentation,” Ismail stated.

At the graduation ceremony, His Excellency Mr. Nayef Al Bakheet, Chief Commissioner Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority noted an exciting achievement for the Pathways to Professionalism program in Aqaba. “I was impressed to learn that, while six of the 32 Pathways-registered hotels are in Aqaba, 19% of all Pathways to Professionalism graduates are from these six hotels. In a city where tourism is key, this is extremely encouraging and exciting,” he remarked.

In 2016, USAID BEST launched Pathways to Professionalism in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. Since its inception, the program has equipped more than 1,000 hotel staff with the qualifications needed to provide high levels of service. It is also helping staff to develop their skills and advance in their careers from Amman, Aqaba, Petra, to the Dead Sea. In 2019, management of the program was transferred to the Jordan Hotels Association (JHA), which is closely linked to Pathways to Professionalism registered hotels. The program will continue to expand over the coming years and will contribute to standards improvement, service excellence and career development in Jordan.