Visitors love the guides' unique local knowledge and perspective, while tourism in both Edinburgh and Scotland is benefitting from the firm's ambition and enthusiasm. The largest black cab company in Edinburgh, Central Taxis, began offering driver-led tailored tours of the city in 2013. Since then, the service has grown in scope and popularity.
Following a successful start, Central Taxis is busy developing its black cab-based tour offering. Ahead of an official launch and extended roll-out, more drivers are receiving the professional and certified tour training the company insists every guide undertakes.
Now, the firm's commitment to quality has been further enhanced, with drivers encouraged to visit the city's attractions. It's a strategy which means that tours are based on first-hand knowledge and experience: exactly the attention to detail Scotland's visitors and tourists appreciate.
Building further on the tours' successes, Central has been hard at work developing links with varied attractions in and around Edinburgh. In the heart of the city, the company now has excellent working relationships with many visitor attractions including Edinburgh Castle, the Scotch Whisky Experience, Gilmerton Cove and the Underground Vaults. Looking further afield, Central has also forged links with Royal Yacht Britannia and Rosslyn Chapel.
These relationships are entirely reciprocal. Drivers are able to promote local attractions, and attractions’ staff in turn recommend Central's tours to their visitors.
It's an arrangement which provides the city's tourists with opportunities to enjoy some of the best experiences the Edinburgh area has to offer. From ghosts to golf, royalty to rugby, trips are tailored precisely to visitors' interests - and hourly rates can be split between groups - making longer, more diverse tours possible. It also gives drivers the perfect opportunity to share the kind of local knowledge and anecdotes that tourists love to hear - and that only cabbies know.
Opening up Edinburgh and its surrounding areas has become important to the firm. Often, its drivers are a visitor’s very first introduction to the city. Central recognises its responsibility to make a great first impression and sees a tour as a natural extension of that moment - with drivers able to offer unbiased, impartial views and perspectives tourists won't find anywhere else.
The success of the tours has placed the company firmly at the heart of Edinburgh's tourism community. Locations and attractions that don't easily benefit from foot traffic have become more accessible, and guests with limited mobility can enjoy the freedom to roam too. Central Taxis is proud to work with ETAG - Edinburgh Tourism Action Group. The firm is ambitious and has big plans to roll its service out further, train more drivers and market its tours to the public and to new tourism partners across the Edinburgh area.
"Since our tours began, we've seen interest quickly build to the extent that we now consider them part of a wider strategy that takes in both tourism and transport." says Mags Kearns, Central Taxis' Business Development Executive, "By integrating those two strands we can provide brilliant visitor experiences that do their bit for the whole of Scottish tourism."
Collaboration between tourism businesses is fundamental to growing the industry and attaining success of the sector’s Strategy 2020 vision.