A FREE promotional advertising space showcasing the rich variety of experiences available to West Sussex visitors was unveiled at Gatwick Airport.

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, and Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s chief executive, performed the unveiling.

The site in the airport’s South Terminal promotes Experience West Sussex, a visitor marketing initiative led by the county council.

It works with a broad range of partners and businesses.

The campaign generated around £2 million in additional economic value for the local economy and businesses in 2017 alone.

Further sites promoting tourism across the South East could be unveiled in coming months as part of a package of measures to boost local tourism.

This follows discussions by nine regional partners about forming a new body – the Gateway Gatwick group – to help harness the benefits of having the UK’s second largest airport in the region.

Partners who met during the first meeting included West Sussex County Council, Surrey

County Council, Visit Surrey, Surrey Hills, Rural West Sussex

Partnership, Coastal West

Sussex Partnership, South Downs National Park Authority, Gatwick Diamond Initiative, and Coast to Capital LEP.

Other partners may join the group in future.

Travel and tourism are key to the South East economy, with international visitors arriving via

Gatwick alone spending 9.7 million nights in the region and £1.3 billion in 2017.

In total, more than 5.5 million international visitors arrive in the UK via Gatwick each year.

Stewart Wingate said: “We are proud of the leading role we play in the South East, creating jobs, supply chain opportunities and acting as a gateway to millions of visitors every year.

“Many airport passengers go on to spend time in the South East so it makes perfect sense for those involved in the region’s

tourism industry to put their heads together to see how we can help each other.

“This announcement is just the start and will hopefully grow into a comprehensive set of measures to boost local tourism, which is one of the engines of the region’s economy.”

Meanwhile, Gatwick is the first UK airport to open a sensory room for its passengers.

It offers a relaxing, private and fully interactive environment to calm people who may feel overwhelmed in busy and unfamiliar airport surroundings.

The new space in the North Terminal has been designed for passengers with autism, dementia, cognitive impairment or other special needs.