The Government’s targeting of the travel industry over green issues is “the big lie”, according to chief executive David Soskin.

Soskin accused the Government of using the travel industry, and the aviation sector in particular, as a scapegoat in the green debate because it is an easy target.

“The hike in Air Passenger Duty was unnecessary it was raising revenue for Gordon Brown,” he said.

He said he would like to ask the prime minister how much of the £1 billion extra APD money will be used to tackle green issues. He added: “The travel industry is a big income-generator for the Government. To play around with it is very ill-judged.

“If you are seriously green and care about the environment, then target where this is the most effective – such as domestic tourism, cars and power stations,” he urged.

However, he said the travel industry has not co-ordinated itself effectively and is failing to deal with a green lobby effort.

Soskin added: “I feel the travel industry was slow and unco-­ordinated in dealing with the threat to the industry regarding green issues.

“The travel industry should do all it can to mitigate this. However, the green lobby is sophisticated and well organised. There are a lot of people with a political agenda.”

Soskin is concerned about the long-term impact of the Government’s policy on the sector.

He argued that penalising the aviation sector will mean people will stop flying. The knock-on effect would result in operators buying fewer aircraft, meaning they would be less efficient. He said this would then have a devastating impact on the developing world, which depends on travel and tourism.

“To cut off the lifeblood of these economies is ill thought-out,” said Soskin.