Hodges University

Hispanic institute forms partnership with Southwest Florida International Airport

The Hispanic Institute at Hodges University has issued the results of a survey quantifying the interest for nonstop service from Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) to Caribbean and Latin American countries.

The report is based on data collected by surveying more than 1,000 Hispanics and Non-Hispanics in Lee and Collier counties. The survey was adapted from the Caribbean and Latin American Survey conducted by the Lee County Port Authority in 2007. The surveys were conducted in English, face-to-face, by phone, e-mail and placed in local newspapers with the help of collaborating partners, the Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic American Business Alliance (HABA).

The survey reports that over 94 percent of the respondents said they would travel more to Caribbean or Latin American countries if there were direct service from RSW. 46 percent of respondents would travel to Puerto Rico and 21 percent would travel to the Dominican Republic. Other travel destinations included Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia and Brazil.

“This report highlights the growing need for more service in our area,” said Carmen Rey-Gomez, director of the Hispanic Institute. “We live in a desirable destination for family and leisure activities, and with the growth of the Hispanic community here, combined with the expansion at RSW, there is a great business opportunity for an airline or several airlines to offer direct service from Southwest Florida.”

The report also showed that nearly 39 percent of respondents who have traveled to the Caribbean or Latin America originated their travel from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and 38 percent originated from Miami International (MIA). That is compared to only 17 percent who flew from RSW.

“The results of this survey will be valuable support information for Southwest Florida International Airport to use when we meet with our airline partners to discuss new routes,” said Robert M. Ball, A.A.E, executive director for the Lee County Port Authority. “We applaud the Hispanic Institute for supporting our initiative to attract nonstop service to Caribbean and Latin American markets.”

“In working with the Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic American Business Alliance, I hope our collaboration will help our local efforts in securing nonstop air service to these destinations, not just for leisure travel, but for education and business development as well. With direct air service, economic doors open on both sides, not just from our region, but from these other countries as well. There is great potential for economic development,” said Rey-Gomez.

Copies of the report can be obtained by contacting the office of the Hispanic Institute at Hodges University at (239) 938-7793.

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