CHRIS ARNOLD: Hey, are you guy's tourists?
TROY STRICKLAND: We are.
CORINNE STRICKLAND: We are.
ARNOLD: The map of Boston in your front pocket gave it away, I think.
STRICKLAND: Was that a (unintelligible)?
STRICKLAND: Now, you mean we don't look like we're locals, is that correct?
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STRICKLAND: Whoa. Did you do that?
ARNOLD: Troy Strickland and his wife Corinne are here from Birmingham, Alabama. They just finished a tour of the famous sailing gun ship, the USS Constitution.
ARNOLD: How are you enjoying the trip to Boston so far?
STRICKLAND: It's fantastic. We've been here before and we brought a couple with us that's not been.
ARNOLD: The airport here reports a 7.1 percent increase in passengers so far this year. The State Office of Travel and Tourism says visits to Massachusetts from other countries are up 11 percent. And all that helps to create more jobs. There's hotels, taxi drivers, restaurants and all sorts of other small businesses that you might not think of.
ANDY CHASON: Well, this is one of the newer houseboats that we've just had built.
ARNOLD: Over on the shore, Andy Chason is walking is walking along a dock. He's the founder of SleepAfloat.com. He has a growing fleet of houseboats here in Boston Harbor. He rents them out to tourists, he says, as a more fun alternative to hotel rooms.
CHASON: You get more space than you get in a regular hotel. Plus, you get a full kitchen. They can sit up on that roof deck and, you know, have a nice cup of coffee on the water in the morning.
ARNOLD: Chason says with business and bookings for this summer picking up, he started hiring people. He used to just run the company with one assistant.
CHASON: And now we have about six to eight people and we hope to double and triple that over the next year or two.
ARNOLD: Chason shows me around the inside of one of the houseboats.
CHASON: Back here is the main bedroom.
ARNOLD: Oh, nice.
CHASON: It's got two windows that are stained glass. We sunk a fortune into it, and eventually, if things work, we'll get a nice return on it.
ARNOLD: Chris Arnold, NPR News, Boston.
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