The travel industry is set to face a tough 2009, delegates at the Barclays Travel Forum heard today.

A panel of leading travel bosses including Hoseasons chief executive Richard Carrick, All Leisure Group chairman Roger Allard, Lastminute UK managing director John Bevan and Hays Travel managing director John Hays predicted next year would present the industry with some tough challenges.

Hays said: “I think it will be a lot less easy next year in the sector.

“I don’t think it’s going to be easy and it’s going to be tougher next year. There are tough times ahead.”

Carrick said he believes this year will be okay but Brits with low to middle incomes will  find their finances becoming increasingly tight, especially young families with high mortgages. He argued that it is likely holidaymakers will take less holidays although they won’t stop taking them altogether.

Bevan said he believed Greece and Spain would suffer a drop in passenger numbers next year.

While Allard predicted the big two will do well this year but that the fuel price is having a knock-on impact.