The industry must adjust to "the new reality" while demanding a changed attitude from governments, Thomas Cook UK and Continental Europe chief executive Peter Fankhauser told the ITT conference.
Fankhauser said: "Austerity measures and the high cost of living mean people are more considered when it comes to purchases beyond the essentials.
"External price shocks dictate whether people can afford to go on holiday and what sort of holiday they take."
He told the conference in Abu Dhabi: "The economic times we live in is the new reality. We need to get used to what is now the new norm."
However, he insisted: "People are still choosing to go on holiday."
Referring to the explosive growth of budget carriers and "the overwhelming shift in channel", Fankhauser said: "Not just the economy has a bearing, but also market forces.
"We are an evolving industry and it is not always easy to keep pace. There are so many routes to market that weren't there before."
But while the industry has evolved over the last ten years, he said: "Governments have failed to do the same.
"Global travel contributes a huge amount to the world economy. But the lack of government support for the industry is the same in every market.
"From flight taxes such as APD to the uneven playing field of consumer protection, it isn't right. It's our job to fight our corner and our customers' corner. We need to do it loudly and with one voice."
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