Comment: A difficult week is defined by tragedy

It has been a sobering week for the industry, with this issue of Travel Weekly including reports of three very different tragedies that have been felt keenly by many.

The sudden death of leading lawyer Peter Stewart as we went to press came as a shock to all who knew him, and our thoughts are with his family and many friends this week.

On an entirely different scale, the images of Nepal over the past few days have been horrifying. It is gratifying to see so many operators and agents stepping forward to help not just their own customers, but the people of a beautiful country who now face an uncertain future.

The third story is no less tragic, with the inquest opening into the deaths of Robert and Christianne Shepherd in Corfu, in 2006.

Reports from Wakefield Coroners’ Court bring back memories of a truly dark episode for the industry and, as a parent, it is heartbreaking to consider what the family must still be going through.

The findings of the inquest, which is likely to conclude in about two weeks’ time, could have implications for the companies concerned, including Thomas Cook – where there have been widespread management changes in the intervening period – but also for the wider industry. The fact that the coroner’s inquiry is taking place before a jury is an acknowledgment of the public concern.

It is no consolation that the inquest could also serve as an opportunity to restate the industry’s commitment to health and safety, and the importance it places on safeguarding customers at every stage of a journey.

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