Tourism: The department of occupational standards on March 26 accredited the two-year diploma programmes offered by the Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality (RITH).

The institute’s director Karma Thinley said the accreditation would help RITH gain international recognition and open up exchange programmes for students. “The accreditation is a watershed moment for the growth of the programme and institute,” he said.

RITH is the first hospitality and tourism training institute in the country established by the government, with support from the federal government of Austria, to advance professional training and education in the tourism and hospitality industry.

Association of Bhutanese Tour Operator’s executive director Sonam Dorji said the accreditation would increase values and standards of the courses offered by RITH. “It would increase value in terms of certification and standards in terms of quality of education offered,” he said. “We hope that it will help the industry realise the goal of professionalism.”

The institute began its classes from August 2010 with 50 students.  Since then, RITH officials said there batches of students have graduated and are currently working in the tourism and hospitality industry.

RITH offers two diploma programmes for two years in tourism and hospitality.  Officials said the accreditation would be followed by a joint certification of the programme between Tourism School of Salzburg, Austria and RITH.

The institute partners with Tourism School of Salzburg and University of Applied Sciences, Austria to develop curricula for a two-year diploma programme in tourism and hospitality studies.  The institute also has plans to introduce under graduate and market driven degree courses in future.

Located at the old Motithang hotel, Thimphu, the infrastructure has been adapted to modern needs of tourism and hotel management institute.  The hotel was built in the early ‘70s to accommodate state guests during the coronation of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo in 1974.  The institute is equipped with ultra-modern facilities and boasts of international level curriculum.

The institute also provides continuing education and training to existing industry personnel.  As part of its community and outreach day on March 21, the institute conducted a daylong introductory hospitality and service training to drayang employees.

“Although drayangs are part of the tourism ecosystem, they weren’t given much importance in the past,” director Karma Thinley said. “Similar trainings will be conducted in all drayangs from next month to help them improve their hospitality and sanitation standards.”

By Kinga Dema