The Caribbean’s fears that last November’s increase in Air Passenger Duty (APD) would deter UK tourists appear to have been confirmed by the latest arrivals figures.

A CTO spokesman said although the tourist board was still waiting to see a quarterly breakdown of the UK visitor statistics, it is believed the increase in APD for the Caribbean from £40 to £50 in economy class has had a negative impact.

The region suffered a 1% drop in international visitor numbers for the final quarter of 2009.

For 2009 as a whole, total European visitor numbers fell by 8.9%, with UK arrivals plunging by 11.8%.

Caribbean officials have been campaigning for the increase to be reconsidered, claiming the region is being unfairly hit by the charge.

The news does not bode well for this November, when APD for economy class to the Caribbean will rise again to £75.

Meanwhile, the Jamaica Tourist Board said the island had not seen such a marked decline in UK visitor numbers as the rest of the Caribbean. It has reported a 2% drop for the whole of 2009.

UK regional director Elizabeth Fox said a 2% drop was a good result for the island given the global economic situation, adding: “In the world of travel, flat is the new black at the moment.

“Comparatively a 2% drop in arrivals is better than expected and better than many destinations are experiencing.

“We feel quite positive about the year ahead and expect to see at least a 6% rise in tourism.”