Travel companies are in danger of being sued by holidaymakers who develop skin cancer, university researchers have claimed.
Researchers say sun lovers should be warned of the risks
A study by husband and wife team Ken and Sue Peattie from Cardiff University has warned that tourism could go the same way as the tobacco industry.
Skin cancer is the second most common form of cancer in the UK.
But Frances Tuke of the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), said tour operators were giving plenty of advice.
"Obviously tour operators have a lot of information they have to give these days, such as Foreign Office advice but I think they are very responsible," she said.
"You've got to remember that half of the holidaymakers from the UK travel completely independently."
The Peatties' study was published in Tourism Management magazine to coincide with the start of the great summer getaway. It questions if the tourism industry is doing enough to protect its customers "from one of the biggest killers of our generation".
The authors, who worked in association with a leading Australian dermatologist, criticised travel brochures for often showing bronzed sunbathers wearing next to no clothes.
The first signs of skin cancer can take as long as 30 years to show
Analysing attitudes to skin cancer, the report said the main reason it had become the second most common cancer in the UK was the huge increase in foreign travel, with the dangers far from the minds of people heading for the sun.
Professor Ken Peattie, of the Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (Brass), said that when people went away they forget about the risks.
"When tourism and risk are discussed, terrorism and crime seem to be at the forefront of people's minds.," he said, "Yet in reality, a tourist is far more at likely to fall victim to health problems."
"There seems to be little incentive for travel agents to alert their customers to the potential health and other hazards present at their destination," said Professor Ken Peattie.
"When tourism and risk are discussed, terrorism and crime seem to be at the forefront of people's minds. Yet in reality, a tourist is far more likely to fall victim to health problems."
According to the researchers, the time lag between sun burn and the first signs of cancer was part of the problem. They claimed the delay has allowed the tourist industry to get away without facing its responsibilities.
But they warned people suffering from skin cancer could soon start pushing claims through the courts for a failure of the industry to protect them from the effects of over-exposure to the sun.
But Ms Tuke of Abta said: "I hate to say it, but we live on an island that is often murky, dark, foggy and even wet and the attraction of going abroad, frankly, is that it's sunny and warm. I'm afraid that is just a fact of life.
"Tour operators, like other people in business, have to consistently update their images and they will be reflecting a sign of times."
Abta also rejected the idea that the tourism industry could be blamed for health problems.
Ms Tuke said: "It would be extremely unfair to target tour operators when they are not the only cog in the holiday wheel."
"The point of this research is not to consign the sunshine holiday to the past," said Dr Sue Peattie, "but to call on the tourist industry to start acting responsibly by warning customers about the long term risks associated with sunburn."