Omani tourism and hospitality students’ employment intentions and job preferences. Ramifications on Omanization plans

Published date04 September 2017
Date04 September 2017
AuthorTamer Atef,Masooma Al Balushi
Subject MatterEducation,Curriculum, instruction & assessment,Educational evaluation/assessment
Omani tourism and hospitality
studentsemployment intentions
and job preferences
Ramifications on Omanization plans
Tamer Atef
Tourism Department, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
and Hotel Studies Department, University of Sadat City, Sadat City, Egypt, and
Masooma Al Balushi
Tourism Department, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Purpose This paper aims to assess receptiveness for Tourism and Hospitality as a career path among
students in the Tourism Department of Sultan Qaboos University (College of Arts and Social Sciences), located in
the Sultanate of Oman. The following objectives were identied to achieve this aim: assess respondents
perceptions of tourism and hospitality employment; respondentstourism and hospitality employment
commitment factors; and respondentsperceptions of tourism and hospitality jobs.
Design/methodology/approach A self-administered questionnaire was used to gather data and
measure respondentsperceptions of the subject under investigation. Survey questions were developed from the
literature reviewed which provided the framework for the questionnaire. The questionnaire comprises four
different question categories: general information; studentsgeneral perception of tourism and hospitality
employment; and tourism and hospitality employment commitment factors; studentsperceptions of tourism and
hospitality jobs. Data were tested for normality of distribution; then, means were used for data description and
ranking; thereafter, the independent-samples t-test and analysis of variance were conducted to test for
signicance between groups of respondents; the level of signicance used was p#0.05.
Findings The paper revealed that nearly 41 per cent of the students will continue working in tourism and
hospitality for some time. For them, working in the industry is a step on the way, but is not a career path. Only
21.6 per cent are willing to consider tourism and hospitality as their long-term chosen career path. Tourism and
hospitality studentsperceptions of the industry tend to be negatively affected as they progress in their study
plan. Commitment to employment in Tourism and Hospitality is shaped by four major interrelated factor
categories: industry, personality, education and society. 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 Omanization planned gures.
Originality/value The ndings are intendedto assist tourism and hospitality educators, employersand
policymakersbetter understand studentsfuture employmentintentions.
Keywords Employment, Tourism, Oman, Education, Hospitality, Career path
Paper type Research paper
The education system in Oman
The education system in Oman is divided into three main levels: preschool, basic and
secondary education, and higher education. Basic education consists of 12 years of formal
study. After completing Grade 12, a student can join one of the higher education institutes
Received 30 April 2016
Revised 10 April 2017
Accepted 10 July 2017
QualityAssurance in Education
Vol.25 No. 4, 2017
pp. 440-461
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/QAE-04-2016-0022
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
by applying online to the Higher Education Admission Centre, which is responsible for
ensuring that all students are fairly treated and are given the best available opportunities,
based on their preferencesand achievement in high school (Al-Ghassani, 2010).
There are currently eight education and training institutions providing tourism-related
programs in Oman [United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and Omani
Ministry of Tourism (MOT),2011]:
(1) Sultan Qaboos University;
(2) Colleges of Higher Education;
(3) Oman Tourism College;
(4) German University of Technology in Oman;
(5) Gulf College;
(6) Majan College;
(7) National Hospitality Institute; and
(8) Khimji Training Institute.
Sultan Qaboos University, the Colleges of Higher Education, Oman Tourism College,
German University of Technology in Oman, Gulf College and Majan College provide
Bachelor of Arts degree qualications, whereas the National Hospitality Institute and
Khimji Training Institute provide vocational training. Oman Tourism College is the only
institution in the Sultanate that provides both university-level educational courses and
vocational training programs.Sultan Qaboos University runs as an independent institution
and the Minster of Higher Educationis the Chairman of the University Council.
Sultan Qaboos University, the only governmental university in the Sultanate of Oman,
contributes to the development of tourism in the country through the Tourism Department
in the College of Arts and Social Sciences. The Department offers a bachelors degree
program in Tourism (Tourism Management - Hospitality Management) that commenced in
the Autumn of 2001. The programs aim is to graduate qualied personnel to work in the
various elds of tourismand hospitality.
Omanization (localization) policy
The Omanization or Localization policyhas been, in effect, with Oman since 1988, with the
aim of Omanizingthe jobs by replacing expatriates with qualied Omani personnel. In
recent years, this initiativehas become a top priority for the Omani Government (Ministry of
Information, 2002). Similar labor market nationalization policies are in effect in the Gulf
region, including the Emiratization policy in the UAE and the Saudization policy in Saudi
The Omani tourism and hospitality sector has made some progress but has not
achieved the desired levels of Omanization. See Table I for tourism and hospitality
Omanization targets (2006-2010) and Table II for current Omani tourism and hospitality
workforce according to activities (2015) [Omani Ministry of Manpower, 2009;United
Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and Omani Ministry of Tourism
(MOT), 2011;Tanfeedh, 2016].
A key motive behind government supportfor tourism in any country is tourisms ability
to create employment opportunities and hence contributeto the overall economic and social
development plans (Baum and Szivas, 2008). The Omani Government has repeatedly
stressed its desireto promote tourism to the extent that it does not clashwith local traditions
intentions and
job preferences

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