The chancellor’s pre-Budget report was hailed as a crisis measure but did little to alleviate the downturn for travel.

A temporary cut in VAT to 15% from December 1 will have no effect, according to Federation of Tour Operators director-general Andy Cooper.

Tour operators pay VAT on their sales margin, not the total price of a holiday, and Cooper said: “There is not that much margin.”

He forecast no price reductions and no rebates for clients, although tour operators reported requests for refunds.

Small travel businesses – with annual profits up to £300,000 – will benefit from the postponement for a year of a rise in corporation tax from 21% to 22%.

However, all employers and staff will pay higher National Insurance contributions from 2011.

Travel Trust Association and Worldchoice managing director Simon Hargreaves said: “The chancellor did nothing to help this industry. The positive impact will be minimal.”

Travel and the pre-budget report