With the number of visitors arriving in the Sultanate showing a steady increase and many international brands opening their hotels, the hospitality sector is seen as the perfect platform for young Omanis to seek jobs.
Adding to this is the change in the image of tourism and hospitality sector aiding Omani youth to change their perceptions about the industry and start seeking jobs, feel experts.
“The hospitality industry is growing rapidly with huge opportunities for employment,” says Principal Robert MacLean, principal, National Hospitality Institute.
Employers are keen to promote Omanis wherever possible and that too, many of them in the senior positions in the hospitality industry, opines MacLean.
“With a choice of hotels, employment opportunities are aplenty. 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,” he told the Observer.
According to the latest data from STR Global, Oman currently has 15,843 hotels, with another 6,347 rooms in the pipeline, representing a 40.1 per cent growth.
While 2016 witnessed the launch of Grand Millennium and re-launch of Sheraton, there are others like the Kempinski Hotel Muscat, which will open in Al Mouj, and the Jumeirah Group, which will operate a luxury resort in Muscat in 2017.
The luxurious W Hotel is scheduled to launch by early 2018.
The occupancy rate in three- to five-star hotels in the first quarter of 2017 stood at 65.5 per cent as the total number of guests reached 431,454.
The growth is 18.3 per cent compared with the first quarter of 2016, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).
The total revenues stood at RO 57.049 million, a growth by 7.2 per cent compared with the same period of 2016. The occupancy rate grew 0.3 per cent.
While the number of Omanis working in hotels dropped in 2014 and 2015, some top-level hotels boosted their Omanisation rates over the same period. However, the number remained constant in 2015, dropping by only 0.1 per cent in 2016, NCSI data shows.
For most of this time, five-star hotels remained constant at around 33 per cent with Omanis working longer than they do in other hotels.
The Ministry of Tourism has already revealed there will be 500,000 jobs in the sector by 2040.
The biggest challenge in the tourism and hospitality industry, experts point out, is shortage of skills.
“There is an increasing deficiency in senior positions. Moreover, a vast number of workers are needed not only for traditional roles such as waiters and chefs but also for more specialised fields,” opines Malik al Jahadhami, Vice-President of Oman Chefs Guild.
The hospitality sector provides a perfect opportunity for young Omanis to gain experience in other cultures and develop the skills and confidence for dealing with people outside their own country, he adds.
Meanwhile, a report by Tamer Atef and Masooma Al Balushi points out that the Omani tourism and hospitality industry was not able to project an image that could generate interest among Omanis.
“Consequently, very few graduates join the tourism and hospitality job market, leading to shortages in Omani workers in the industry.
The major drawback of such trend is the inability to achieve the planned Omanisation figures,” the report adds.