Abu Dhabi: The nation's capital's first college specialising on hospitality management is planning to move to a bigger campus to enable it to accommodate more students.

This was revealed yesterday in a news conference called by Dr Abdullah Abdul Jalil Al Fahim, Chairman of European International College (EIC), to announce the graduation of its first batch of students.

The three-year-old college currently has 70 students, of which 15 will graduate on June 15.

Al Fahim said the expansion is meant to attract more students - especially Emiratis - to take up hospitality management.

"I am aware that some Emiratis remain hesitant to study hospitality but with time, their idea about the field will change, and this starts with today.

"We are proud of our first batch of graduates, who I know will succeed in their career paths; with that in mind the EIC will relocate to a new campus and plan to attract over 300 students," Al Fahim said.

Dr Oskar R Sykora, Founding Dean of EIC, also spoke about the importance of making the right career choice once stud-ents complete their hospitality diploma.

"Graduating is only a beginning for these students. Their real exposure is about to begin, even though all of these students have undergone internships in various hotels.

"Once graduated they must take baby steps and start from scratch and gain experience in every single department before they can be fitted in a managerial position, and that takes between seven to 10 years," he said.

Studying hotel management and working in hotels and hotel management schools has allowed Dr. Sykora to identify what it takes for a country to be considered attractive for tourists.

"EIC is my 13th baby project and students here are well aware of the fact that 80 per cent of a hospitality task involves hard work. Parents must also invest in their children's education since they are the future.

"Tourism requires repeat visits. People must want to choose to return to the UAE, not because of business purposes, but for leisure, and that starts off by experiencing a good service and seeing new things," said Sykora.

Khaled Al Assiry, 23, an Emirati who is among the EIC's pioneering graduates, spoke to Gulf News about his plans after graduation.

"I want to complete my bachelor's degree and step up that ladder slowly. I'm in no rush to reach seniority without being exposed to all the departments in the tourism authority, which is where I intend to work once back.

"My ultimate goal is to come up with as many ideas as possible to help increase the number of tourist attractions in Abu Dhabi," said Al Assiry.