Saudi Fund for Tourism Development partners with prestigious hotel institute

RIYAD: The Saudi Tourism Development Fund has signed an agreement with one of the world’s most prestigious hotel institutes, Sommet Education, to boost the Kingdom’s tourism sector.

Benoît-Etienne Domenget, CEO of Sommet Education, told Arab News that the partnership with TDF is highly aligned with Saudi Vision 2030 as tourism will play a vital role in the future for the Kingdom.

The partnership will help develop the knowledge, skills and competencies of the fund’s employees and clients in the fields of tourism, hospitality and entrepreneurship through dedicated programs, training courses, workshops, lectures and advice.

Benoît-Etienne Domenget, CEO of Sommet Education. (Thierry Arensma)

“The TDF initiative is lifelong training and continuing education… We are going to train TDF executives and their young talents because specialized training is essential. This is the future of education, ”said Domenget.

“Of course you need a solid foundation, but you also need a solid continuing education. Those who invest in lifelong learning and continuing education will win the race to find the right talent. This is what will contribute to the future of tourism in the Kingdom.

According to Domenget, Sommet Education is the largest and largest group of hospitality management educational companies in the world. Sommet Education has five schools and is present in eight countries, including Switzerland, France, South Africa and India. The Swiss hotel business schools, Glion Institute of Higher Education and Les Roches, as well as the culinary arts and pastry school, École Ducasse, are also under the aegis of Sommet Education.

“We have 18 campuses with a few more coming up very soon. We offer around 400 programs ranging from vocational and basic education, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, MBA, special education and lifelong learning. We are present in all areas of hotel management, training and education in the culinary arts, ”he said.

“We have more and more students coming from Saudi Arabia on our campuses in Switzerland. Today, we already have around 150 Saudi students in bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. And it started almost 20 years ago with the arrival of the first student on our campuses. “

Campus des Roches. (Education Summit)

The Saudi Ministry of Education recognizes both the Glion and the Roches institutes.

“We are proud to be the only educational group to have two institutions accredited by the Ministry of Education, which only attributes to the enduring relationship we have with the Kingdom,” said Domenget.

During the signing ceremony, Qusai Al-Fakhri, CEO of TDF, said the tourism sector is a key driver of Vision 2030.

“In order to facilitate its rapid growth, it is essential to have the right talent in mind,” he said. “Through our partnership with Sommet Education, we look forward to enabling TDF’s valued customers and employees to provide them with the best training. They must realize their tourist ambitions during this exciting phase in the history of the Kingdom.

Domenget said TDF is a major player as it supports the tourism sector in the Kingdom with massive funds. They also support the development of small and medium-sized enterprises as well as private enterprises.

“In this regard, we are starting our project with TDF to train their executives and future leaders and this is the first phase,” he said. “And of course, we will extend this to clients in which TDF invests to help them have the right skills to further develop the tourism sector. Thus, the main objective with TDF is to train professionals already active in the tourism industry in the coming years.

Domenget pointed out that today the GDP of the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia is around 3% of the GDP and that TDF aims to increase it to 10% and reach one million jobs by 2030.

Campus of the Ecole Ducasse Paris. (Beogly Grazia)

“We are very proud to support TDF and Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 to help create a generation of talent that will prepare future leaders in this industry,” he said.

Sommet Education offers special tailor-made programs for TDF, ranging from intensive one-week to nine-week courses. Domenget pointed out that there will be face-to-face interactions with professionals as applicants travel to Swiss campuses.

One of the biggest challenges in the tourism industry, according to Domenget, is finding the right talent for tomorrow.

“I always say that creating a big hotel is not that complicated,” he said. “You need access to capital, a great location, great engineers and great architects. But when you have the hotel, what will make the difference is the people who work there. And this is the most difficult challenge that every person working in the tourism and travel industry faces: finding the right people.

Domenget said the connection between Summit Education and the Kingdom has grown over the years. They signed a memorandum of understanding last year with Human Capital Development, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Tourism.

“We are also a strong partner with the United Nations World Tourism Organization, which recently opened its offices in Riyadh. So a lot is happening, and I’m sure more projects will come in the future, ”he said.

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