Paul Tyler, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for tourism, called for an emergency aid package to save hotel and guesthouse owners from being forced to sell up 'at the worst possible moment in the property slump'.
Mr Tyler said that a survey carried out in his Cornwall North constituency, a 'key' tourist area, found that 59 per cent of holiday business owners were thinking of selling up.
It discovered that 48 per cent had made a loss last year, compared with 37 per cent in 1990; 73 per cent expected this season to be 'poor'; and 82 per cent expected next year to be even worse.
'This is a serious industry, with serious problems. The Government must stop treating it with candy-floss complacency,' Mr Tyler said.
The industry earned pounds 6bn from overseas tourists last year and provided work for 1.2 million people, he added. 'Further decline would fan the flames of the recession, adding to unemployment and driving Britain further into the red.'