A rush of travel agency businesses could be set to hit the market as operators attempt to bypass Government regulation.

Capital gains tax on the sale of a business or property will rise from 10% to 18% on April 5 after the abolition of taper relief in the chancellor’s Pre-Budget Report.

Jonathan Wall, managing director of travel specialist accountancy firm Elman Wall, said: “The tax rate will almost double and there could be a rush to sell businesses. Everyone will be saying: ‘Why not sell before April 5?'”

But he warned: “There are not that many buyers out there.”

A shortage of buyers could bring down the price of businesses if those looking sell up rush to take advantage of the lower tax rate while it lasts.

Wall advises against anyone rushing to sell a business who is not already considering it. “Never do anything just for tax reasons,” he said. “But if you were planning it anyway, do it before the rate goes up – provided you have a buyer.”

ABTA downplayed the likely impact. A spokesman said: “Members need to be aware of the change, but we don’t foresee a rush of members selling their businesses before next April.”

However, White Hart Associates partner Chris Photi agreed with his fellow accountant. “It is likely people looking to sell will try to speed up the sale,” he said.

An agency sale can take anything from 10 days to 12-18 months, but generally goes through in eight to 12 weeks unless the due diligence process unearths problems.