Big Bus Tours, the world’s largest operator of open-top sightseeing tours, has expanded into South-east Asia with the completion of its acquisition of the Singapore Duck & Hippo tour company group.
The global company has taken over the seven sub brands previously owned by the Duck & Hippo group: Original Tour, Hippo Bus, Singapore 7 Sightseeing, Singapore Trolley, City Sightseeing and SIA Hop On.
The launch of Big Bus Tours in Singapore on September 3 sees the first of the rebranded Original Tour buses hit the streets. The fleet will undergo livery changes to become Big Bus Singapore over the next few weeks. Existing routes remain the same, and include Orchard Road, Marina Bay, China Town, MBS Shopping, Little India, Singapore Flyer, Sentosa Island and the Raffles Hotel Singapore.
Founded in Singapore by James Heng in 2002, Duck & Hippo started with two Duck buses and 10 staff. Today, it has grown to a 120-staff operation with a fleet of 50 assorted vehicles.
Duck & Hippo’s key partners include the Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore Airlines, JTB, Ctrip, Viator, Expedia and all key attractions in Singapore. To date, the group has handled more than 650,000 passengers a year in Singapore and is today a market leader in the tourism segment.
It is not clear if Duck & Hippo staff and guides have been absorbed, but the new owner said in a statement that there’s a “team of live guides already in place” and that on-street staff and guides will benefit from Big Bus Tours training programme.
Alex Payne, CEO of Big Bus Tours, added: “The Duck & Hippo management have run a very successful operation since 2002 and we are keen to continue with their expertise, knowledge of the city, and relationships with key partners. They have set a high standard for tours in Asia and so we are excited for them to help us expand further into the region.”
With the acquisition, Singapore will become the 21st city in the Big Bus Tours portfolio, after the most recent additions of Dublin and Los Angeles. Other cities in the portfolio include London, Paris, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Hong Kong, Dubai, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Rome, Budapest, Vienna, Istanbul and Sydney.