Amman– After months of preparations to adopt new restaurant classification standards in Jordan, the Tourism Committee at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA) has initially approved the new standards that were developed through a joint effort between MoTA, the USAID Jordan Tourism Development Project and the Jordan Restaurant Association. The new system seeks to improve the quality of service offered to guests at tourism restaurants around Jordan.
"The new system is part of ministry efforts to develop tourism facilities and services in order to enhance the visitor experience and these restaurant standards will help upgrade food service in Jordan in accordance with international standards," explained H.E. Zaid Goussous, Minister of Tourism & Antiquities.
"Restaurants are tourist attractions, just as museums and other points of interest are. Therefore to keep up with international developments, a new restaurant classification system was created for all classes of tourist restaurants. This was done after studying several standards and learning about the experiences of countries that have that are advanced in this regards," explained Mr. Essam Fakhrildin, Head of Board of Directors of the Jordan Restaurant Association.
"For a destination to compete internationally it must respond to current developments in tourist trends and it must meet the demands of international visitors,” said Mr. Ibrahim Osta, USAID Jordan Tourism Development Project Chief of Party. Regarding the new system, he said, "We are enthusiastic about Jordan’s new classification system, which promises restaurant customers that they will receive service that meets and even exceeds their expectations.”
The new standards are based on food and beverage quality, facility cleanliness, service efficiency and creating a hospitable and welcoming atmosphere, in addition to others. According to the new system, restaurants will be first categorized as a Formal or a Casual Dining based on the service Journey concept, and then operators will conduct a self-assessment of 80 mandatory standards to get the Tourist Approved status. Afterwards, restaurants that follow the Formal and Casual categories will be subjected to a visit by an assessor who will officially assess and classify them. Under the new system there are three classification levels for restaurants, which are identified by a fork symbol. Accordingly, restaurants will receive one, two, or three forks in addition to three forks with a star. The star will only be given to restaurants who achieve the highest evaluation based on mystery shoppers' assessment.
A restaurant classification steering committee was formed last year, with representatives from JRA, MoTA, the USAID tourism project and the private sector. The committee oversaw the development of the new restaurant classification standards to ensure that they are in line with international best practice, develop an organizational structure and a legal framework for the classification process, revise and agree on the proposed restaurant classification standards, and will guide restaurants in implementing the new system.
Over the few months the standards will be disseminated to restaurants in Jordan and approved assessors will be trained on the new system, which is due to be launched in June 2011. It is expected that this new system, which is an innovation in the region, will support turning Jordan into a world class destination that excels in providing an enjoyable food experience for tourists and guests.