British holidaymakers have seen their tax burden on trips abroad soar by £500 million since 2008 to £2 billion last year.

The estimate comes from new research by campaign group the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which is calling for a cut in Air Passenger Duty.

It highlights APD as the highest tax on flights in the world – equivalent to £56 for each foreign holiday taken.

The study shows that a family of six travelling to Spain will have faced an average tax bill of £187 on their flights and holiday purchases in the UK.

A family of four heading to Florida will have seen their average tax bill rise by £150 to £350 in five years.

TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive Matthew Sinclair said: “People work hard all year to make ends meet, despite high taxes and rising prices.

“They look forward to a holiday as a blessed relief but sadly the tax man is waiting even when they try to take a well-earned break.

“Britain’s exceptionally high taxes on flights in particular make holidays much more expensive, as well as making it harder for Britain to compete as a destination for tourists and business investment.

“The government should cut Air Passenger Duty and make flying more affordable.”

Responding to the research Airport Operators Association chief executive Darren Caplan said: “This report clearly shows that eye-wateringly high levels of Air Passenger Duty the UK are punishing holidaymakers.

“It cites the example of a family of four flying to Florida: APD in 2012 for flying economy class to the US was £260, representing almost 75% of the £350 total holiday tax levied on UK holidaymakers travelling to the States.

“Leaving aside the fact that APD has gone up even further since 2012, it cannot be right that UK families pay over £260 in APD when the equivalent family flying from France pays £38.

“What’s more in 21 out of 27 other EU nations no APD is levied at all, and several EU nations have scrapped APD recently due to the damaging impact it was having on their economies.”

He added: “Chancellor George Osborne needs to signal a cut in APD in his forthcoming Autumn Statement; and should commission his Treasury team to conduct a study into the damaging impact UK APD is having on tourism and business.

“Lower levels of APD would stimulate economic activity and result in increased tax revenues for the UK – if the Chancellor disagrees, why not prove it via a Treasury study?”