Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

100% of tourist restaurants in Aqaba classified under new standards

14 Aug 2019

All tourism restaurants in Aqaba have been officially classified as ‘Tourist Approved’ under the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority’s new Restaurant Classification Standards. In total there are 37 tourist restaurants, which include 1 formal restaurant, 3 quick service restaurants, 29 casual restaurants and 4 coffee shops. The implementation of the new standards has created a uniform set of regulations for the restaurant sector in Aqaba and would-be entrepreneurs, and provided a level of transparency for customers, employees and owners regarding the quality of service expected and provided. 

In 2014, USAID BEST began work with the Jordan Restaurant Association and Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority to develop and implement Aqaba’s first ever restaurant classification system. Previously there was no system in Aqaba, with restaurants simply receiving a license before beginning operations. The new system delineates restaurant types and raises the bar for hygiene, comfort and food safety to ensure restaurants meet customer expectations. It also allows flexibility, allowing restaurants to meet mandatory minimum standards to be classified and then meet voluntary standards to increase their rating.

USAID BEST provided training for ASEZA staff, qualifying them as approved restaurant assessors. ASEZA and USAID BEST also conducted an awareness session for restaurant operators to explain the new system and the importance of implementing it  to ensure consistent standards within the city’s restaurants that meet guest expectations. As part of this work, USAID BEST collaborated with the Jordan Restaurant Association and Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority to produce a guidebook for restaurants for self-assessment. The guidebook ensures the transparency of the classification system and allows restaurateurs the ability to determine existing gaps in their operations and the directives by which to remedy them.

Sharhabeel Madi, the ASEZA Commissioner of Economic Affairs highlighted the impact of the new restaurant classification system, stating “The system is an important factor in upgrading the performance of the restaurant sector in Aqaba. ASEZA will continue to support the tourism sector through its partnerships with public and private stakeholders, including the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Jordan Restaurants Association and the USAID Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism project.”

As Jordan’s only coastal city, Aqaba is a popular tourism destination that hosts visitors arriving by air, land and sea. As such, elevating and upholding restaurant standards is important to developing the city’s tourism offering.As Jordan’s only coastal city, Aqaba is a popular tourism destination that hosts visitors arriving by air, land and sea. As such, elevating and upholding restaurant standards is important to developing the city’s tourism offering.

 

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