The timing of inquests into the deaths of 30 Britons killed in a Tunisia terrorist attack is the “worst possible hand to have been dealt to the industry”, according to a travel marketing expert.

The inquests start on January 16, two weeks in to the industry’s peak sales period for next summer, and are expected to last between six and eight weeks.

In total 38 people, including 30 Britons on holiday with Tui, were killed by a gunman as they lay on the beach by the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel at the resort of Port El Kantaoui on June 26, 2015.

Steve Dunne, executive chairman of the PR firm Brighter Group, said: “This is the worst possible hand that could have been dealt to the industry in terms of timing.

“Geopolitical unrest and safety are now bigger issues than price and Brexit for consumers, and the one thing the industry cannot control is safety.

“If you get to the point of considering a holiday purchase and suddenly the front pages of the newspapers are dominated by tales of horror on the beach, this could have a detrimental effect.”

Dunne believes it is unlikely the inquests will stop holidaymakers from booking but thinks certain destinations in the eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and even in Asia could suffer.

Tui said it would be taking an “incredibly sensitive” approach to the inquests.

Nick Longman, Tui’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: “We are taking a full and active role in the inquests as we, like others, want to understand the specific circumstances that led to this terrible event.

“This is an extremely important matter to us and something we’ll continue to be incredibly sensitive to as we enter what is traditionally a key trading period for us as a business and the travel industry at large.”

The inquests are expected to assess the adequacy of travel advice offered by the Foreign Office and travel companies.

Relatives of 17 of the 30 British families have begun legal action against Tui Group.