Revving up for Christmas: Black Cabs Offering Christmas Lights Tour

Black cab companies are offering the experience of a London Christmas lights tour, combined with the drivers’ extensive knowledge of the city and its history.

Charlotte Howard, 40, is the owner of Christmas Tour Cabbies, which is a family of black cab drivers, including her father, her husband and her brother-in-law.

She said: “Between the three of them, there is well over 50 years worth of the knowledge.”

With tourism taking a substantial hit this year, the taxi industry has been feeling the effects.

The impacts on inbound tourism to the UK in 2020 forecast a 76% decline in visits and 80% decline in spending.

Howard, from Surrey, said: “Covid has all but decimated the black taxi trade, our family income has dropped substantially.”

The idea behind the tour originated from Howard’s childhood, as her father used to take her to see the Christmas lights from the back of his taxi.

Howard added: “You forget how amazing London is, especially at Christmas. 

“We had the idea that we could offer this service to other families as well.

“We’re so pleased to see lots of other Cabbing families doing the same, we are all helping each other out – it’s such a strong community.”

Mark Wynter, 56, is also offering the Christmas lights tour from his own taxi.

He said: “People like the fact that we are knowledgeable on where all the lights are – they normally assume the lights are on Oxford Street.

“I’ve taken people who work in the West End or on Oxford Street and shown them things they didn’t know were there.”

REVVING UP FOR FESTIVITIES: Mark said the Christmas Lights Taxi Tour can be used to celebrate any occasion around Christmas CREDIT: Mark Wynter

Wynter, from East London, commented how a lot of cabbies have gone out of business, and have had to find other jobs.

He added: “In terms of work its been really, really down. Coming up with this and working has been a breath of fresh air.

“Customers can have a glass of champagne and get out and take pictures.”

Owner of Visit London Taxi Tours, Cheryl Cullen, has noticed the loss of international tourists this year to her company.

She said: “Mainly our market is the international market.

“But we’re a little bit busier than normal because people are so fed up with staying in and being trapped indoors – on the domestic side we’re a little busier than we usually are.”

CHRISTMAS AT CARNABY STREET: Visions of an electric Christmas have provided customers with great photos. CREDIT: Cheryl Cullen

Visit London Taxi Tours run the Christmas Lights Tour every year, with their employed drivers being qualified London tour guides.

Cullen added: “This tour is a wonderful time, a real memory maker for people.

“The photographs are fantastic. The backdrop is London lit up – its marvellous.”

Normally London gets over 30 million visitors from around the world every year.

Cullen described this tour as a life saver for the company.

She said: “It will help us get to the next financial year, it’s that important to us.

“The whole industry is on its knees.

“We’re trying to crawl to the Covid finish line but we just don’t know when it is.

“We’re picking up bookings every day. People want an exclusive experience, away from the crowds.”

Featured image credit: Mark Wynter

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