The importance of partnerships has been a recurring theme again this week, says editor-in-chief Lucy Huxley

The loss of Specialist Leisure Group and its much-loved Shearings and Wallace Arnold brands last Friday was a stark illustration of the massive pressures that continue to face the industry.

And I’m sure I wasn’t alone in noting the grim juxtaposition of the failure with the home secretary’s public lauding of the “incredibly dynamic” travel sector in the daily briefing, while once again failing to offer any tangible support or clarity for the industry.

Despite the devastating news for Shearings and its fantastic staff, there have been some glimmers of optimism this week from agents and suppliers who say they are seeing their first ‘green shoots’.

Confirmation of a quarantine period for all arrivals, allied with the FCO’s open-ended travel advice, is clearly not helpful. But behind the scenes there appears to be a degree of confidence that measures will be refined in the coming months, and there may still be hope for a truncated overseas summer season.

As this crisis has unfolded, I have written about the importance of partnerships, and that was a recurring theme again this week as retail agents discussed how to start reopening their shops and suppliers started to plan their return.

One suggestion, from Designer Travel’s Amanda Matthews, is that suppliers should use agents as advocates for a return to travel by offering them incentives and compelling rates once lockdowns are lifted. I can’t think of a better way to relay confidence to customers, or to show that the way out of this crisis is not acting alone but in true partnerships.

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Lucy Huxley, editor-in-chief, Travel Weekly

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