City Sightseeing

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City Sightseeing Gozo Hop-On Hop-Off open top bus FPY 004.jpg
City Sightseeing Gozo King Long in July 2012
Parent Enrique Ybarra
Founded 1999
Headquarters Spain
Service type Open top bus tours
Leyland Olympian in Manchester in September 2008
Hippo Tours operation in Singapore in May 2006
Northern Counties Palatine II bodied DAF DB250 for the Cambridge City Sightseeing Tour, note non-standard offside centre door
Bath Bus Company Ayats Bravo bodied Volvo B7L in Bath, England on July 2008
Bath Bus Company Ayats Bravo bodied Volvo B7L in Windsor, England in August 2009
Alexander Dennis Enviro500 open-top bus of Grayline New York Sightseeing
City Sightseeing bus in Moscow

City Sightseeing is a World’s leading global excursion sightseeing bus brand, formed by Ensignbus and the Spanish Hispalense de Tranvías, which operates tour bus services globally. Typically the tours are operated by open top double-decker buses.

As the tourist attraction bus travels near all major landmarks around the town or city, pre-recorded or live commentary in many languages is provided by small headphones that users leaves atself. Users unlimitedly may leave the bus and board again (so called hop-on hop-off) in special bus stops on circle route. In large cities buses goes on more than one route. On some rotes buses leaves the city to achieve an suburban sights (such as from Sintra to Cabo da Roca). In some cities (such as New York, etc) buses functions at the night even. In some cities (such as Prague, etc) some variants of ride includes the travel by boat.

City Sightseeing buses are recognisable due to their red livery. Free map of route for each city offers as guide and advertisement. Usually the tickets issues for the one-day and (reduced) two-days rides. Tickets may be purchases at places or (with some discount) online in the internet. Tickets and discount offers are transferable between the worldwide tours. In some cities ride by City Sightseeing included in city's guest card. In 2011 annual rides were near 13 million of tourists.

Company history[edit]

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.[1]

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 owned the operations in Bath, Cardiff Eastbourne and Windsor until its Bath Bus Company subsidiary was sold to the RATP Group in February 2011.[2][3][4] 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.[5]

Ensignbus retained ownership of City Sightseeing in Sydney,[6] its interest in City Sightseeing Italy and increased its share holding in City Sightseeing in Washington. Sydney now operates as Sydney Explorer with all other Australian franchises operating under the Explorer brand except Melbourne which operates as City Sightseeing. The Mornington Peninsula Melbourne service which commenced 1 November 2014, ceased 25 January 2015.[7]

As at November 2014, City Sightseeing had operations in over 100 cities in 32 countries.[8]

Franchise model[edit]

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.

Locations served[edit]







 Czech Republic[edit]





 Georgia (country)[edit]

















 South Africa[edit]




 United Arab Emirates[edit]

 United Kingdom[edit]

 United States[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]