The Tourism Ministry has set aside NIS 3.5 million to improve the quality of service to tourists across the country. A designated NIS 1.3m. will go to providing classes for the hotel industry's 35,000 employees. "The plan is to train workers who are new to the industry and also continue the education of those who are already working," said Mina Ganim, director of professional training in tourism for the ministry. The courses, which are set to begin in midsummer, will continue through 2009 in order to provide training to all hotel employees. This year, 7,000 of those employees will attend one to seven days of courses pertaining to their profession. Classes will include information on fine cuisine, dealing properly with difficult guests, leadership, staff management and computer skills. With the onset of the first and second intifada, the hotel industry stopped training its employees as tourism dropped. "Now those people are training new people. That fact is compromising the Israeli tourist industry," Ganim said. Israel's recent tourism boom, rising 20 percent between 2006 and 2007, has increased the need for training programs. Almost three million tourists traveled to Israel in 2008, and the Tourism Ministry expects an estimated 5 million in 2012. "We always believe that improvement should take place, and it's a constant procedure," said Shmuel Tzurel, CEO of the Israel Hotel Association. "Due to the blessed and very rapid increase in demand for hotels, we gladly absorbed many new employees in the past few years, so we believe that training and ongoing training should take place." In addition to the training of hotel employees, the Tourism Ministry will also spend over NIS 2m. to train workers dealing with tourists on a daily basis outside the hotel industry. These workers include taxi drivers at the airport, restaurant owners and lodge managers. "Anybody who gives service to tourists, we want to touch, help and upgrade the service that they give," Ganim said. Overall, the tourism industry directly contributed NIS 20 billion to the gross domestic product in 2007.