A senior Disney executive has warned that high levels of Air Passenger Duty (APD) are having a negative impact on the number of Britons taking cheap flights to Florida and other long-haul destinations.

Disney Destinations executive vice-president of worldwide sales and travel operations Randy Garfield argued that there was potential for the Walt Disney World resort to have greater space for UK visitors. He said there was also capacity for more cheap flights to Orlando and other destinations in the Sunshine State, were it not for high fuel costs and travel taxes.

"The number of seats is not what it was a number of years ago on a chartered basis," he told a travel industry lunch in Florida last week. "Is the number of visitors a function of the lift or is the lift a function of the number of visitors? I personally believe as the lift increases the load factor will stay steady or improve and we can fill those planes."

Mr Garfield went on to contend that "fundamentally" there were more cheap flights available than there were a decade ago, but there was still a "fine balance" to be struck between prices, taxes and customer satisfaction.

Other guests at the industry lunch said that visitor numbers for Florida holidays were driven by the magnetic attraction of Walt Disney World more than anything else. ATD Travel Services chief executive Olly Brendon declared: "I do not see anything other than expansion by Disney to get Florida back to where it was. Competitors cannot drive demand like Disney."

Many holiday industry figures, especially the heads of cheap flights airlines and other carriers, have been attacking the government over its high levels of APD.