The Government has been urged to give hospitality businesses hit by the flooding a six-month moratorium on National Insurance and VAT payments.
The British Hospitality Association (BHA), which made the plea this morning, is also asking the Government to write to the banks and utilities to request that they do not press for payment on outstanding amounts at what it describes as "this catastrophic time".
"The floods have caused as much damage to affected businesses as the foot-and-mouth epidemic in 2001," said Bob Cotton, BHA chief executive.
"The Government was quick to offer similar assistance to businesses then and we are asking that it should step in now to alleviate the pressure on those affected.
"Not only have the floods come at the height of the domestic holiday season, but the damage caused will take many months to recover from," he added.
Cotton said that the floods had not only affected large areas of the country where tourism was a main economic driver but that some hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions will have to stay closed for many months in order to repair the damage caused.
They needed support from the government, the utilities and the banks in order to conserve cash flow and to recover, he added.
Cotton is due to have a meeting with environment secretary Hilary Benn tomorrow to discuss the impact on hospitality.
By Daniel Thomas