AN award-winning West Kilbride travel agency owner has hit out at the Scottish Government for dropping a key pledge to cut a tax on flights.

Linda Hill, of LAH Travel, says she is 'enraged' at the decision which she believes will have a drastic effect on the North Ayrshire economy.

She has demanded a meeting with local MSP Kenneth Gibson on the matter, which she believes could destroy small businesses like hers.

Linda says: "I think he forgets we pay his wages and I am entitled to have a chat with him. There was no consultation on this whatsoever.

"Abolishing the air passenger tax would make Scotland very appealing to fly from with new routes planned by airlines.

"It is more the knock-on effect on the local economy which people don't see to have picked up upon.

"The hoteliers are not going to get any benefit from it if airlines are going to pull out of Scotland because of it.

"A direct connection to China was pulled as soon as it was announced that the pledge was dropped.

"At the moments clients are flying to Dublin to avoid air passenger duty, which is upwards of £200 per person.

"I personally feel totally let down by it - it was a failed promise - and it is a hammer blow to the already fragile travel industry."

She added: "Many local people who run business are angry and disappointed."

Largs-based Tory MSP Jamie Greene supports Linda's claims.

He says: "The decision to maintain one of the highest aviation tax regimes in the world puts Scotland at a massive competitive disadvantage and will impact investment into our country.

“This will have a direct impact on local businesses and Ayrshire residents, ensuring that the cost of a holiday from Scotland is proportionally higher than from a Dutch or Belgian airport.

MSP Kenneth Gibson said: "This matter was fully debated at the Scottish Parliament, and I have replied to a constituent, who is a travel agent.

"Air Passenger Duty was introduced by Labour and continued by the Tories, who bitterly opposed cutting this tax until early in May when they childishly reversed their position just to oppose the SNP.

“Presently, there is a lack of independent evidence that would support the government’s assertions that the duty at current levels inhibits personal and business travel.

"The SNP Government could not have abolished APD anyway, because we would not get our budget passed if we included it.

"The biggest threat to overseas travel - in Europe at least - is uncertainty over Brexit and the fall in the value of Sterling against the Euro.

"The result of this is a boom in ‘stay-cations’ with more people saying in Scotland, boosting jobs an revenue in the Scottish and UK domestic tourism industry, an industry which is vitally important to Ayrshire, and employs seven per cent of the entire Scottish workforce.”