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A survey by the Danel manpower company reveals that at the beginning of September, demand for tourist industry workers rose 24 percent compared to each of the previous three months. The increase is due to the upcoming holiday period and the rise in foreign tourists.

The sharpest increase, 33 percent, was for waiters, followed by maids and front-desk workers. The trend shows that tourism jobs are expanding faster than any other local industry, including high-tech.

The intifada, recession, and war in Iraq comprised a triple blow to the industry between 2000 and 2003. Dozens of hotels and B&Bs closed, while many other hotels shut down entire floors to survive, sending tens of thousands of workers into the ranks of the unemployed.

Tourism workers are hired by the first in, first out (FIFO) method, so low-end workers are the first to be let go. The industry employed only 42,000 people at its low point in 2002, down from a high of 125,000 in 2000. It began recovering last year, reaching 62,000, and Israel Hotel Association Director General Avi Rosenthal believes the figure will reach 85,000 by the end of the year.