This category covers establishments primarily engaged in furnishing water transportation of passengers, not elsewhere classified.
Inland Water Passenger Transportation
Scenic and Sightseeing Transportation, Water
This industry is comprised of a number of different operations. Among them, airboats, or swamp buggies, provide transportation primarily for sightseers in swamps and marshy areas; excursion and sightseeing boats offer passenger tours and inland water cruises; and canal boats give passengers the opportunity to explore historic canals. Water transportation workers held more than 72,000 jobs in 2004, with about 17 percent of them working in inland water transportation, primarily in the Mississippi River system. The Mississippi, Ohio, and Columbia Rivers are main waterways for river cruises. The Missouri River emerged as a popular tour destination during the 2004-2006 bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition and continues to feature tour and hotel barge excursions.
While some establishments in the industry base their tourist appeal on remoteness from civilization, others focus on historical connections between industry and natural or man-made waterways. Disused canals offer great natural beauty and also serve as a reminder of key moments in the nation's past, including the brief and yet crucial role of canals in opening up the West and fostering the growth of the U.S. economy, as well as a time when the forces of industrialization and the natural world co-existed on a more equal footing. One example was the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, connecting Cumberland, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., which became a historic park.
River tours often provide excellent introductions to the history and architecture of major urban centers. Other activities in the industry include dinner yacht cruises, steamboat rides, riverboat gaming operations, and trips aboard U.S. Postal Service boats. Shipwreck sites have become "bottomland preserves," providing additional sources of revenue for local businesses offering water transportation services to tourists, marine biologists, and scuba enthusiasts.