OIA spends $500K, hires multilingual employees as international travel rises

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

Orlando International Airport hired more than a dozen employees to help non-English-speaking tourists.

Sixteen employees have been hired as part of the program, which cost $500,000.

Yanic Santos is one of the new ambassadors, and he spends his days switching back and forth  between five different languages.

“Some of them actually hug you or want to give you a tip,” Santos said of travelers.

The airport has committed to the ambassador program for two more years. That works out to about $12 an hour for each of the employees. 

Airport officials told WFTV international travel increased 12 percent, or about 340,000 passengers, in the month of March.

Airport officials said Brazilian travel increased more than 100 percent last month, which is why most of the new hires speak either Portuguese or Spanish.

Depending on how the program goes this year, the airport could bring more people on board.

 “People have choices. If you look at Florida, we have Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa,” said Debra Bouier of OIA. “People can go to other airports.”

 The airport hopes by having people like Santos, it will help tourists choose Orlando.

OIA officials told WFTV all the positions are currently filled.  The number of multilingual ambassadors walking around the airport is also dependent on when international flights arrive or depart.