STREETERVILLE — With tourism hitting near-record levels, Shoreline Sightseeing, a family-owned tour boat company, has dealt with more demand by christening its first new tour boat since 2006: the Riverview.
"It seems as if the city is sort of shaking off the economic doldrums and we're doing a lot better. [There are] more people in town who are more receptive in taking our ride," Shoreline co-owner Matt Collopy said. "We needed additional boats to meet that demand."
During the Friday christening, Choose Chicago CEO Don Welsh said he expects the city to meet and exceed its goal of having 50 million tourists by 2020 — in fact, he thinks Chicago will increase its goal to seeing 55 or 60 million tourists. The city reported that 46.2 million tourists visited in 2012.
"They are looking at it from so many different angles that I'm sure they will obtain that goal," said Amy Hartnett, Shoreline director of sales and marketing.
Collopy also said he thinks "they definitely will surpass that goal."
The Riverview, which can seat 280 people, is different from other Shoreline boats in that it's more of a barge. Because the boat's propulsion is at its back, it provides a "quiet, smooth experience," Collopy sad. It is also more fuel efficient, he said.
With the addition of the Riverview, Shoreline operates 19 tour boats. Shoreline also offers walking tours and has started operating as an evening water taxi between the museum campus and Navy Pier on nights when there's big shows on Northerly Island, Collopy said. He said the water taxi tickets sold out the night of the Jimmy Buffet concert.