Industry bodies highlighted APD taxes, restricted availability on hotels in key destinations, and the arrival immigration experience as the major issues which need to be addressed to help drive UK visitor numbers to the US.

Speaking at the Visit USA briefing at WTM today, Advantage managing director Julia Lo Bue-Said encouraged American counterparts to help lobby their and our government over the issue of APD.

She said for Advantage members, US sales had increased 18% year on year in 2013, with sales for 2014 currently at +22%.

Lo Bue-Said said the US needed to do more to penetrate the UK leisure market, highlighting that the destination only has a 4.5% market share of the sector – a figure which is down by 6%.

Lo Bue-Said said APD was restricting more sales of long-haul trips.

“It is a major barrier and we need your support for our government to change it.

“This is a barbarical tax which is impacting on our industry without question. I feel very passionate about it – it puts people off travelling.

“The impact it has had this year will get worse and it will continue.”

She said that “game changers” for the US market would include a complete overhaul of the immigration process and quipped that if immigration officers were to smile more they would be half-way to resolving the problem.

She highlighted the challenges faced by the UK market on the high street and the importance of having a “multi-channel environment” to have any chance of having a thriving business.

Describing the UK market, she said sales had started off really buoyantly for the summer selling season but that it had plateaued.

Describing January as a very strong point for sales in the UK retail sector, the Advantage boss she said was hoping the same strong early booking trend would happen again.