Typically the tours are operated by open top double-decker buses. As the bus travels around the town or city, pre-recorded or live commentary is provided. City Sightseeing buses are recognisable due to their red livery. Tickets and offers are transferable between the worldwide tours.
- 1 Company history
- 2 Franchise model
- 3 Locations served
- 4 Planned new locations
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The City Sightseeing name goes back to 1972 when Peter Newman used it for a pair of ex-Standerwick 'Gay Hostess' Leyland Atlanteans on his City Coach Lines company which ran four times daily tours of London.
In 1998 Ensignbus revived the name and developed the red livery in the Spanish city of Seville, when it helped an established sightseeing operator relaunch itself with double-deckers using the experience and expertise developed with London Pride Sightseeing, and links forged through the sale of open top buses around the world through Ensigbuses vehicle business. It did the same in Sydney, Australia.
With the sale of London Pride Sightseeing in 1998, Peter Newman and Enrique Ybarra stated their intention to introduce a global brand of sightseeing buses, City Sightseeing was launched at the World Travel Market in 1999.
In March 2000 the franchise model was initiated, with tours starting in Glasgow (Scotguide) and Canberra (Transborder Express). Startup operations would comprise a British manager until local staff were trained.
In 2000 operations expanded in the UK in York, Edinburgh and Bath, with Edinburgh's Lothian Buses introducing the first purpose built open top low floor buses. In 2001 operations expanded further in the UK, Spain and Australia, and into Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2002 operations in Alberta, Canada opened, and expanded in the UK. In 2003 operations started in Italy. In December 2000 the online booking system was introduced.
In May 2002 City Sightseeing acquired its biggest rival Guide Friday who had a base in Stratford-upon-Avon and operated tours across the UK and in major European cities. Operations were either rebranded as City Sightseeing or absorbed into existing operators where Guide Friday had been a direct competitor. The acquisition brought City Sightseeing's operations up to nearly 70 cities worldwide with nearly 250 vehicles.
In 2003, City Sightseeing introduced the first purpose built sightseeing buses, Ayats Bravo City bodied Volvo B7Ls, featuring equipment specifically for tours and also being low floor, first in Spain and then in 2004 into the UK and around the world. In Singapore, it is part of Singapore Ducktours Limited since 2004.
Ensignbus owns the operations in Bath, Cardiff Eastbourne and Windsor. It also owned the operation in Cambridge and Stratford-upon-Avon but these passed to Stagecoach where they also provide normal bus services in the local area.
In 2011, Ensignbus sold the business to the Spanish franchisee Enrique Ybarra's City Sightseeing Worldwide of Spain.
Today, City Sightseeing operates in 94 locations worldwide and will in 2011 break the 100 city mark and carry a combined total of around eight million passengers per annum, making it the largest open top sightseeing business in the world.
The company has been developed along the franchise model. Some operations are wholly owned by City Sightseeing, some are joint ventures, but the majority of tours are operated by franchisees, either existing bus operators in the locality or new companies, either rebranding existing vehicles or introducing new ones.
Operators have the choice of flexibility in how much or how little direct involvement with City Sightseeing company they have, and can choose vehicles and systems appropriate to themselves.
Through the franchise model, operators have access to group expertise to solve problems, and to providers of equipment such as off board ticketing, GPS linked commentary systems and vehicle refurbishers. They also have access to Ensignbuses expertise in tour vehicle modification. Operators can also take advantage of block negotiation with promotional partners that may not necessarily wish to deal with smaller operators.
As a minimum, the franchise operator must carry the City Sightseeing red base colour and graffiti style, they must use the global booking web-site, and a percentage of any revenue taken is returned to City Sightseeing.
Operators are free to apply a specific local branding within the red scheme, with local identities or the Guide Friday name retained if thought necessary.
- Amalfi and the Amalfi Coast
- Eastbourne and Beachy Head
- Llandudno and Conwy
- London, see also The Original Tour
- Newcastle and Gateshead
- South Tyneside
- Windsor and Eton
Rest of Europe
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Bergen, Norway
- Brussels, Belgium
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Istanbul, Turkey
- Luxembourg, Luxembourg
- Oslo, Norway
- Paphos, Cyprus
- Paris, France
- Reykjavík, Iceland
- Sofia, Bulgaria
- Tallinn, Estonia
- Warsaw, Poland
Planned new locations
- Anaheim, USA
- Las Vegas, USA
- Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Medellín, Colombia(Starts March 2012)
- Bogotá, Colombia (Starts October 2011)
- About City Sightseeing City Sightseeing
- The History of Ensignbus Ensignbus
- Ensignbus sells City Sightseeing Route One
- City Sightseeing – Banksmeadow Bus Australia
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