The travel industry is bracing for a painful holiday season as people scale back their discretionary spending. But that is good news for anyone who has yet to book a winter getaway, as hotels, airlines and cruise operators introduce last-minute deals to entice vacationers.

Holidays are the busiest time of year for most travel companies, a season when they command the highest rates for popular winter destinations.

But as the economy's decline has accelerated, nervous consumers have shut their wallets and put off vacation plans. For the first time in six years, Thanksgiving travel is expected to decline, according to AAA, with about 41 million Americans taking trips of 50 miles or more from home, a dip of 1.4 percent from last year.

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