Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies: 30 years of training hospitality professionals
The Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies (FHTS) is celebrating 30 years of service this year. Throughout the years, FHTS–now a wing of Maldives National University (MNU)–has overcome numerous challenges and today stands tall as the leading training facility for hospitality professionals in the country.
The facility was established in 1987, to address the growing need for hospitality professionals required by the country’s booming tourism industry. What started as a humble operation today has a total of 516 full-time students and has trained over 5,000 professionals in various disciples of the hospitality and tourism sector.The institution came into existence with the backing of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and European Economic Community (EEC). It was founded as the School of Hotel and Catering Services in April of 1987.The faculty has seen many a number of leaders at its wheel, steering the institution towards what it is today, delivering innumerable services to the institution and industry as a whole. Mariyam Noordeen, as the first Dean of the faculty, oversaw many developments since its inception.“Even though we had funding for our lecturers’ development, finance was always an issue. The building was so old and we couldn’t keep up with the developments that were being made in the resorts at the time,” she says. “Despite all these challenges we were working towards exploring alternative funding sources and developing the facilities and services of the faculty.”What was initially funded through UNDP was later managed by the tourism ministry since 1992. Two years later, the facility was renamed as the Institute of Hotel and Catering Services (IHCS), and in 1997, the programmes offered at the institution were accredited by the Business and Technical Education Council (BTEC) of the United Kingdom.Ali Saleem, who led the faculty for a number of years, sees its development as critical for the country’s tourism industry. “FHTS was the venue at the forefront in developing the much needed human resources at the infancy of Maldives’ tourism industry. Its role continues to be as important as it was at the beginning,” he says.
“I am proud of its past and its continued services to the country’s hospitality and tourism industry,” he adds.IHCS was later remodelled as the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies in 1999 under the then-Maldives College of Higher Education (MCHE) and has been managed under MNU since 2011. Though the faculty earlier operated out of Sosunge, it is now based in the India-Maldives Friendship Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies building.The new building, inaugurated in 2015, comes with many new facilities including 4 fully equipped kitchens, and a 28-room city hotel.Zeenaz Hussain currently leads FHTS; she joined the institution as a student and came to the industry in 1995 with a passion for the culinary arts field. “I am enthusiastic about the prospect of training tomorrow’s industry leaders. For this we actively maintain industry connections, so that our students get to experience what it’s actually like to work in the industry,” she says.
“I consider it necessary that academic know-how is imbued with sufficient on-the-job experience. Innovation is a significant focus on how we orient our programmes so that we take the discipline of hospitality and tourism studies further in the Maldives,” she notes.Initially offering certificate courses in the field, FHTS now offers certificate level 3 courses in Culinary Arts, Tour Guiding, Food and Beverage operations, Patisserie, Front office operations and Housekeeping. It has also been offering undergraduate programmes since 2011 in Culinary Arts Management to International Tourism Management, in addition to its Master’s programme.Today, FHTS continues forward in its plight and stands tall as one of the central pillars of the country’s tourism industry, training the much-needed professionals that make the industry truly Maldivian.