Brexit will force some travel companies to fold, and clarity is needed to help firms in the industry make plans, a panel of executives has warned.

Speaking at Travel Weekly’s latest Business Breakfast, staged last week under the wings of a retired Concorde at Manchester airport, Inspiring Travel Company (ITC) chair Jennifer Atkinson said it was important for businesses to show ambition, adding: “Out of adversity comes opportunity.”

But she warned that even operators such as ITC, which sells to affluent customers, were vulnerable to a weakening value of the pound and predicted clients would take fewer and shorter breaks.

“We are going to have to look harder for opportunities,” she said. “Sadly, only the strongest survive, therefore there will be casualties.”

Manchester airport chief operating officer Tricia Williams urged firms to make contingencies, adding: “Having no plans is terrifying.”

The airport has no-deal plans in place, she said, but admitted that after the 2016 referendum result it “took a step back” and considered scaling back a £1 billion investment in its Terminal 2.

Richard Calvert, chief executive of Shearings parent Specialist Leisure Group, said he would back a second referendum, adding that even as a domestic specialist he sees negatives to leaving the EU.

“If there was Armageddon, or whatever you want to call it, there would be a rise in people staying in the UK for staycations or international customers staying at our hotels, but your cost base goes up as well,” he said.

On the Beach chief executive Simon Cooper equated planning for Brexit as “trying to quantify the unquantifiable”. He predicted holidaymakers would make bookings later next year.

Christoph Debus, chief executive of Thomas Cook Airlines, said “Brexit will definitely impact us”.

He called for clarity but said he was “confident” that “a solution” would be found so aircraft could continue to fly on Brexit day.

“It’s clearly in the interests of the British government,” he added.