A Plimsoll Publishing report reveals as many as 291 tour operators could go bust in the new year as the recession continues to bite.

Plimsoll Publishing senior analyst David Pattison has named the companies in the latest financial analysis report, entitled Plimsoll Analysis: An Assessment of the Top 1,000 Companies in the UK Tour Operators Industry.

While he does not believe all of the named companies will cease trading, he added: “Having clung on through the bad times, many of these struggling companies are going to run out of time and fail just before the recovery really takes hold.

“Sadly, some of them are just too weak to carry on and there will be spike of failures in the new year. On the flip side, their demise will bring a welcome reduction in competitive pressure for those left.”

Pattison predicted the state of the market will lead to a prolonged period of consolidations and takeovers, and has named 79 companies that are ripe for acquisition.

Furthermore, he branded 131 companies as serial loss makers, some for the second and third years in a row.

However, Pattison said the situation was not entirely bad, with the report revealing that 453 companies have been trading successfully throughout the recession with some even improving their performance over the last year.

He added: “They also prove that bad companies fail in a recession; good companies simply do not. These companies will lead the industry out of recession with some smart acquisitions and by maintaining their recent success.”