A Merry Christmas?
At this time of year, we would normally be emailing travellers past, present and future who have taken tours with us or who have booked tours for the following year. Our greeting would traditionally consist of wishing everyone a Merry Christmas from Edinburgh Cab Tours and a Happy New Year as the icing on the cake. I might have even put together a short compilation video of the numerous visitors we had taken on tour this year.
A little something has got in the way of being able to do that. If you haven’t already guessed – COVID-19 has had a major impact on every facet of our lives. It has made 2020 a year to remember for all of the wrong reasons.
For many it will be the year that they lost a loved one or indeed loved ones. For others perhaps their own health has been seriously compromised over the long term. Others will have lost their jobs and will be relying on the charity of others and the assistance of their respective government.
As 2020 draws to a close, do we see a glimmer of hope from various big pharma companies? Let’s hope so and that the various vaccines that are rolled out will combat this tsunami of a virus.
What have Edinburgh Cab Tours been doing in the meantime?
By now, we the collective Edinburgh Cab Tours, and me personally would be hanging up our kilts and putting our proverbial touring boots up after a hectic and busy tour season. However, there has been no tour season to speak of. My last booked and actual completed tour was on 15th March. So, this is truly the year that I, like many, will be eager to put behind us.
For us in the tourism and hospitality industry, it has been a devastating year. With no earned income during the last 9 months, it has meant any “rainy day” money has been well and truly exhausted. If it were not for the British government assisting operators and other tour-related businesses with financial grants to see us through this year, many would have had to declare bankruptcy. Some, unfortunately, have fallen through the cracks and have lost everything.
Whilst seeking other avenues of employment, I was initially able to keep myself busy updating my website and freshening up its content. I was also able to spend more time adding posts to my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
But the real leap forward was in creating more tour-related videos of Edinburgh and Scotland. At the invitation of Stephen Maloney at the Scottish Travel Society on Facebook, I took their subscribers on a three-part live virtual tour of Edinburgh’s New Town. Each live tour lasted approximately 45 minutes. It was actually quite exciting with viewers able to ask questions in real time. Once I had completed the tour, I was able to upload it to Facebook. Then other viewers could watch the tour afterwards and ask questions.
However, it led on to me taking the plunge into creating my own tour videos which can now be found on my YouTube channel. In total, I have created over 45 videos. The most popular are the 1-Minute Snapshots of various locations. For those viewers who wish to luxuriate in the beauty of Edinburgh and Scotland, there are also longer videos. I have also provided suggested walking route videos, highlighting the key landmarks along the way with a little bit of background information. If you want to watch any of our videos please click here and subscribe (and like, if you like) our videos. This will ensure that you are notified of any new videos that I upload. Here’s one as a taster.
My temporary employment as a delivery driver for a well-known UK supermarket chain has slowed down my input in these areas. But I will be adding new videos from time to time. Apart from helping to pay a few bills, I guess one of the benefits of this type of work is that I have lost almost a stone in weight since starting…..some may say that I had at least a stone to lose!
New additions to our Tours
Although Edinburgh Cab Tours prides itself on having built its reputation providing high quality private vehicle tours, we decided to add two walking tours to our offering. Each are of three hours duration, with one tour covering the Old Town of Edinburgh and the other the New Town. These can only be booked through our website and we look forward to taking visitors on these tours.
You can’t beat taking visitors in person on our tours. We have truly missed it. For those visitors who had tours booked with us this year, we decided right at the very start of the lockdown to play fair with them. We contacted every one of our clients and offered either a full refund (less PayPal’s commission charge which they did not waive at the time), or to use their payment on account for a future tour. It was heart-warming to find that we had a fairly equal split of takers. To those who have chosen to defer their tour until next year or the year after, thank you. For those who chose to take a refund, we still hope to see you all in the future.
What does the future hold?
If we put aside the fact that terms such as “COVID-19”, “Coronavirus”, “quarantine”, “self-isolation”, “lockdown”, distancing”, “furlough” are now part of daily conversation, I think as a global community there are uncertain times ahead. However, what has taken place in this last year has meant major change and I personally hope some of it will mean POSITIVE change.
I don’t think that we are out of the woods yet, not by a long shot. To complete this journey I think that we collectively now need to stand together, socially-distanced of course, and support one another. We need to look after our nearest and dearest. If nothing else, I think this last year has taught us that we need to appreciate and cherish more those around us. Our time on this earth is far too short not to make the most of it.
Without getting into the politics of how we get out of this, these are unprecedented times, and our “global leadership” have taken decisions that they thought best at the time. Mistakes have been made but this really is uncharted territory. Scientists and forecasters can predict through modelling what they expect to happen but this virus hasn’t been given the modelling script and it plays by its own rules.
Some extreme groups have seized this opportunity to push forward with their political agenda. That is unforgiveable. The country where this all began has reaped the benefit of increasing its production of goods and continues to export all around the world with impunity. All the time it has hidden the real facts about how, why, when and where this virus really began. That also is unforgiveable. Taking advantage of more democratic nations around the world, it continues its march for global domination by buying up companies whilst they are on their knees. That is also unforgiveable.
I can understand the frustration felt by many whether it be racial or sexual inequality or hardship for the poorer members of our society. But I like to see the good in everyone and this has brought to the fore the fact that there are more good people than bad. Even if it is simply helping your elderly neighbour to get jobs done that they can’t do. Or helping out with community-based projects on a voluntary basis. Or where affordable, donating more to charities to help the disadvantaged in our society. We all must do our bit.
What is the future of travel?
As I type this blog, the UK has been plunged into another lockdown effectively putting to an end the chances of families from separate households being able to enjoy Christmas together. The original plan had been to allow a 5-day relaxation of restrictions, allowing travel and mixing of households. But there has been an outbreak of a coronavirus variant which spreads more quickly. The government, in my opinion, has made the right call to impose restrictions akin to a full lockdown.
For travellers arriving from the rest of the world, presently you need to complete a passenger locator form before your arrival. You may also need to self-isolate for up to 10 days when you arrive, depending on where you’ve travelled from. Without the benefit of a crystal ball, who knows how long this will continue for. I had originally predicted that we may start to see travel from overseas to the UK recommence by about the middle of 2021. However, it may take until 2022. Here in the UK, it has been calculated that it will take the whole of 2021 to vaccinate the entire population. Until that is completed, and we “have a lid” on the virus, we cannot take the risk of further outbreaks.
Essentially, we want everyone to be 100% safe. That includes locals who live here and for our visitors that come to experience our beautiful country. And that is what it will come down to – CONFIDENCE!
EFFECTIVE VACCINE – NO QUARANTINE – PUBLIC CONFIDENCE = RESUMPTION OF TRAVEL
When we do eventually get those three factors all lined up, the people of Scotland will look forward to welcoming you with open arms. We here at Edinburgh Cab Tours will most definitely look forward to seeing you all, including our returning visitors.
Not only will our arms be open, but our hearts too. Humans are by nature a social group as well as inquisitive about their environment. The great thing is that our mountains, lochs, hills and beaches will still be here when you can eventually travel. Our history won’t have changed. Our most iconic locations of castles, palaces, abbeys and conservation areas will still be here. The long suppressed anticipation will make it all the sweeter when you can actually visit them in person.
So, whether you choose to self-guide yourself around them or to use our private tour services, just know that we are as eager to show you around as you are to visit.
When things do start to move in the right direction, and if we are already booked we can put you in touch with some of our fellow tour operators who provide a great service like ourselves. I would like to just say thanks to them because collectively we have kept each other’s spirits positive during these dismal months. They are:
Gareth at Edinburgh Expert and Visit Edinburgh
Stephen at Edinburgh and Scotland Tour Company
Alan at Ecosse Executive
In the meantime, let’s look forward to a brighter future, keep your loved ones close, and above all have a happy, warm and very safe Christmas.
We will see you in 2021, either in person or virtually.
To everyone around the world, a Merry Christmas from Edinburgh Cab Tours.