Editor’s note: This article was adapted from a news release that was recently distributed to the media.

The internationally popular attractions of Answers in Genesis, the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, are about to welcome their 10 millionth guest. That visitor is expected to arrive early next week.

The attractions have been visited by a wide range of internationally well-known people over the years, from Pres. Jimmy Carter and a Nigerian king, to celebrities like Bill Nye and rock star Ozzy Osborne.

Ken Ham, founder and CEO of AiG and its two attractions, declared: “We’re thrilled with our total attendance number, as visitors come here from around the world. Nationally, our marketing campaign that uses animated giraffes is kicking into higher gear, including TV ads on major networks. It gives me confidence that 2022 will be our best year, especially as we continue to expand and hold special events. We saw very high attendance in March.”

Screaming Eagle Zip Lines at the Ark Encounter

Family fun at the Ark Encounter includes ziplines near the 510-foot-long Ark.

The Ark Encounter, featuring a 510-foot-long Ark as its centerpiece, and the Creation Museum, with high-tech experiences, are wholesome, family friendly attractions, where parents and grandparents can bring children without concern about content and safety.

This Easter weekend (April 15–17), the Creation Museum will be hosting a “living history” event. During “Easter Living History,” many reenactors in accurately recreated costumes will provide details on the historical background of Easter and Passover, with three special displays: an auxiliary military camp, a money-changers’ table, and a baker’s shop. Guests will enjoy interacting with the reenactors and learning more about Passover in first-century Israel. “Easter Living History” is included with Creation Museum admission.

Economic Benefits of the Ark Encounter

“If you’re a hotel owner or restaurant manager in the region, you’re ecstatic that 10 million visitors have chosen to come to Northern Kentucky to tour the two attractions.” –Brent Cooper

Brent Cooper, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Northern Kentucky, declared: “If you’re a hotel owner or restaurant manager in the region, you’re ecstatic that 10 million visitors have chosen to come to Northern Kentucky to tour the two attractions.”

Cooper added: “Also, think of all the sales tax collected by the state from these visitors and the creation of thousands of jobs because of the Ark and museum. I’m pleased to report that several more hotels are being built or are already on the drawing board to serve future Ark and museum visitors as they continue to pour into our region. Indeed, the attractions have had a remarkable economic impact on the region.” Next to the Ark Encounter’s parking lot, a large Hampton Inn and Suites (125 rooms) is already going up, for a 2023 opening.

While state sales tax collected by the Ark Encounter is significant, it represents just a part of all taxes paid by Ark visitors in the region when they stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, fill up with gas, etc. The economic impact for the state has been enormous. The Ark opened in 2016.

The Ark Encounter has paid property taxes to Grant County and the City of Williamstown totaling almost $4.9 million. Williamstown also instituted a safety assessment fee on the Ark, and through March 2022, the amount paid the city exceeds $1.7 million.

Over the years, directly and indirectly, the Ark has added many tens of millions of dollars into the state and local treasuries, plus has seen the construction of several new hotels to meet guest demand, especially in the cities of Dry Ridge (just north of the Ark) and Florence—yet recognizing that many more hotels still need to be built: on some summer days, no hotel rooms are available within an hour’s drive of the Ark. (Research has shown that over 92% of Ark and museum guests come from outside Kentucky.)

Furthermore, the Ark, Creation Museum and AiG employ over 1,000 staff (full-time, part-time and seasonal staff at various times), which make them significant employers in the region.

What’s New or Coming?

To encourage visitors to stay longer in the area, the attractions have just announced the creation of a Bouncer Pass. Over a seven-day period, guests can visit the Ark and museum three times, leaving additional time for them to enjoy other things to do in the region.

Over a seven-day period, guests can visit the Ark and museum three times [with a Bouncer Pass], leaving additional time for them to enjoy other things to do in the region.

With attendance returning to pre-pandemic levels, AiG is working on expansion plans. The hope is to build a future Tower of Babel attraction that, among other things, will tackle racism issues (showing how all people groups have developed from one biological race). Ark Encounter expansion plans also include the possibility of creating a massive indoor scale model of what Jerusalem may have looked like at the time of Christ (to open perhaps in 2024).

An Ark-themed carousel, custom-built in Italy, will open in a few weeks. In addition, the Ararat Ridge Zoo behind the Ark continues to grow with the addition of new animals and soon a new children’s zoo. At the Creation Museum, a new 1,000 seat auditorium opens on April 24 and construction will begin soon on a large conservatory as part of the beautiful botanical gardens.

Rendering of New Children's Zoo

A rendering of the new children’s zoo to be added to the Ararat Ridge Zoo behind the Ark.

Ham noted: “Ark and Creation Museum attendance will only increase as more international visitors resume traveling and as bus tours return to levels we’ve experienced before, such as up to 55 tour buses in a day. This summer should be our best season ever, especially as we host the largest Christian music festival in the world at the Ark, with select days at the Creation Museum, called ‘40 Days & Nights of Gospel Music,’ to run August 2–September 10.”

On some Saturdays in the summer, the Ark will draw 9,000+ guests and the museum will welcome up to 4,000 visitors.

Last year, the Ark Encounter was named Kentucky’s “most popular attraction” by Attractions Magazine, based on number of Google reviews. The Ark Encounter and Creation Museum have made Northern Kentucky the leading faith-based destination in America.

Challenges Overcome

Since the opening of the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, their biggest challenge was the government-mandated COVID-19 closure of both attractions in 2020 that lasted almost three months. But a very strong 2021 and 2022 are seeing the Ark and Creation Museum not only returning to 2019 numbers but are witnessing record crowds on many days.

Another challenge since the Ark’s opening in 2016 has been countering myths, like the rumor that state money was used to build and open the Ark Encounter. Also, it has had to deal with the myth that the city of Williamstown is at risk on $62 million in Ark bonds. In reality, individual AiG supporters were the funders of the bond offering. All bond payments have been paid on schedule and the bonds will be fully paid off this month.

Today, the attractions’ biggest challenge is hiring hundreds of seasonal staff needed for the busy summer season that starts around Memorial Day. Also, construction costs, especially for wood and steel, have skyrocketed, making projects much more expensive to build.

Answers in Genesis is a multi-faceted apologetics (i.e., Bible-affirming) ministry based in Northern Kentucky, led by Ken Ham, its founder and CEO. This week, AiG’s Answers magazine received several first-place awards from the Evangelical Press Association.


Editor’s note: This article was adapted from a news release that was recently distributed to the media.

This post was originally published on this site