Site Templates don’t work on publishing sites, there are many reasons for this, master pages, page layouts, etc. The stuff doesn’t export / Import well. Some times you need just need to get to the site template for development reasons and what not.
This is stolen from the link below
So, what worked for me is much simpler:
1. In the site that you need to save go to Site settings -> Mange site features
2. Disable publishing feature
3. Link to save as template appears
4. Save site as template
5. Re-activate publishing feature