Spain’s tourism industry can consider it an achievement in the next few years if its numbers remain static, a World Travel Market (WTM) briefing was told.

TUI UK and Ireland distribution director Nick Longman said the operator had not replaced its 2008/09 capacity cut in Spain of 12% and warned the Spanish tourism industry to prepare to be flexible.

He said: “Next year will be very tough. If we don’t see demand coming back, work with tour operators. We would look to Spain to be very supportive.”

Longman said half of all TUI’s clients had taken an all-inclusive package this summer in order to offset the weakness of the pound against the euro, and that many hotels, including those in Spain, had switched their offering mid-season to this or to full-board in response to falling demand.

He said volume lost in Spain had shifted to the Western Mediterranean, Turkey and Egypt.

The UK market to Spain amounts to just over 10 million tourists, but Ignacio Vasallo, director of the Spanish Tourist Office in London, said: “We have lost the two-star product and are getting people in four- or five-star hotels that are paying three-star prices. We are 15% down, it will take many years to come back.”

Longman said that in the market overall, summer 2010 would be similar to 2009.

He added: “We are going to see a more confident consumer than we saw this year, but they will be booking just as late.”

However, OnHoliday Group chief executive Steve Endacott said: “Our message to WTM is that standing still is the new growth. If you don’t work very hard, you go backwards.”