By Dave Warner
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Duck Boat tourist rides are set to resume in Philadelphia on Thursday for the first time since a deadly accident last summer killed two tourists and injured 10.
Richard Negrin, the city government managing director, said the tours, conducted on vehicles that travel on both land and water, will operate with a new set of safety procedures.
While the tours will continue to include the Old City neighborhood before entering the adjacent Delaware River, they are banned from going into the river if there are big vessels within a half a nautical mile.
Duck Boat captains and crew have also received increased training, and are confined to a smaller area on the river, Negrin said.
A 33-foot tour boat of mostly Hungarian tourists collided in the Delaware last July with a 250-foot barge being towed by another vessel. Two of the tourists, aged 16 and 20, were killed.
The duck boat was at anchor in about 55 feet of water at the time, as the crew investigated a suspected engine fire, according to a National Transportation Safety Board investigation.
Cara Schneider, marketing director for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., welcomed the tours' return, saying the Duck boats added to the variety of ways tourists can view the city, such as buses, horse-drawn carriages and walking tours.
"The more (options) there are, the more people do it," she said.
"This is a river city," she added, noting that tourists might not appreciate that fact without the Duck tours.
Philadelphia is framed by the Delaware on one side and the Schuylkill River on the other.
Schneider also welcomed another tour tweak -- tourists will receive their "duck sound" instruments at the tour's end, rather than the beginning.
Residents along the tour route, it seems, were not fond of a passing parade of tourists blowing duck devices.
(Editing by Chris Michaud and Jerry Norton)