Aerial gondolas floating by cable along the Chicago River is the “new vision for tourism,” according to two directors of Choose Chicago, the organization that markets Chicago as a destination.

Speaking to members of City Club of Chicago on Tuesday, Laurence Geller and Lou Raizin presented ideas to attract more tourists to the city with projects that “capture the mind and inspire the soul of both residents and visitors alike.”

laurence_geller1 “Chicago is the most underrated world-class city,” says Geller (left). “We have to re-think how we present ourselves to the world, because if you stand still in this industry, you have already fallen behind.” Paid from private sources, the aerial gondolas would connect Navy Pier, Millennium Park, and the Riverwalk.

(Above) Another idea is to project moving images onto the river-facing rear of Civic Opera House.

The goal, say Geller and Raizin, is to raise private money for projects that would serve as “tourism ignitors” and increase Chicago tourism by millions of visitors each year. At the very least they are hoping the ideas inspire discussion about what Chicago should be known for.

“We kept coming back to the same question,” says Raizin (right), “What’s our unique feature? Where’s our Eiffel Tower? Where’s our Big Ben? These ideas are our attempt to answer this question and are intended to start a conversation in the city about what we would like our reputation to be in the future.” lou_raizin1
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Raizin is founder of Broadway in Chicago, a theatrical production company that presents touring Broadway productions at five local theatres.

Geller is chairman and CEO of Geller Capital Partners and was recently president and CEO of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, owner of 18 luxury hotels. A native of the United Kingdom, he has the honorary title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire.(Left) Closer view of a gondola pod.