Local tourism bodies and companies today voiced their support for the airport's Northern Runway plans because they will help the sector recover and could be central to the success of the region's tourism industry for years to come.
Pre-covid, over 5 million overseas visitors arrived at Gatwick - and around a quarter of them spent time in the region - staying a total of 4.6 million nights in local hotels, B&Bs and rental properties.
This activity helped support around 23,000 jobs and generated £1.2 billion for the local economy, through spending in restaurants, cafes, tourist attractions, shops and other venues.
Tourism bodies and companies supporting the airport's Northern Runway plans include Tourism South East, Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance, Gatwick Hotels Association, Holiday Inn Gatwick Worth and Ridgeview Estate Winery, Burgess Hill.
This week's move from local tourism bodies follows a pledge of support last week from 36 business organisations representing more than 20,000 businesses across the South East and London in a letter sent to the Transport Secretary
The letter urged all the business group's members, and 'anyone else who supports the plans, to take a few minutes to make their voice heard and show their support for future growth and prosperity by responding to the ongoing consultation before it closes on 1 December 2021.'
Further information on the airport's plans, including details on how to respond to the consultation is available at www.gatwickairport.com/futureplans
Fran Downton, Chief Executive of Tourism South East said: "Gatwick Airport sits at the heart of the South East, as a key economic driver for tourism businesses across the region and indeed the whole tourism sector. It is vital, as we build back better in a post COVID world, that our visitor economy is resilient and thriving, with Gatwick Airport playing a fundamental role. The development of the Northern Runway, the infrastructure, the increased capacity and the airports leading stance on environmental management, can only bring local and regional economic prosperity with a robust, and sustainable future for the South East's tourism industry."
Anne Ackord, Chair Brighton & Hove Tourism Alliance, and CEO of The Brighton Pier Group plc, said: "The success of Gatwick and that of the tourism industry in the South East are inextricably linked. We rely on visitors to our destinations to boost this vital sector of our economy. A fast and effective transport network is essential, and Gatwick sits in the heart of our region and the airport's Northern Runway plan could be central to the success of the tourism industry across our region for many years to come."
Mardi Roberts, Director of Communications of Ridgeview Estate Winery Ltd, said "Ridgeview supports the expansion of the Gatwick Northern Runway, especially with the exciting growth of tourism in Southern England in the ever-expanding English Wine Industry. Having Gatwick only 20 minutes away from our winery and a gateway to many others in our region gives us a fantastic opportunity to increase in the rapid growth of international wine tourism in our industry...Our sector employs over 5000 people and has knock on benefits to regional hospitality and hotels in the area. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful airport as Gatwick on our doorstep and look forward to working with them on promoting inbound English wine tourism to our beautiful region of Southern England."
Peter Zielke, Chair of the Gatwick Hotels Association, said; "With over 5.5m inbound visitors coming through Gatwick, prior to the Covid pandemic, it will be vital to the region to see these travellers coming back to the UK. Whether they are visiting for leisure or business, every one of them contributes to the economy through paying for hotel rooms, meals, travel and other expenditure. Our members are ready and willing to welcome them back to the UK."
Chris Schoeman, Hotel Director of the Holiday Inn Gatwick Worth, said "If the past 18 months have shown us anything it is the importance of Gatwick to the local economy and in particular to the hospitality industry. Accommodation for inbound tourism and for other travellers is vital to the region and we welcome the increased capacity that the Northern Runway project will bring, especially as we see there is so much pent-up demand for travel."