On July 7, the Ark Encounter, a 510-foot-long, seven-story-high timber-frame recreation of Noah’s Ark, will open in Williamstown. As the newest themed attraction of the Petersburg, Ky.-based Answers in Genesis group, which opened the Creation Museum nine years ago, the Ark expects to welcome from 1.4 to 2.2 million visitors annually, said Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham, citing a 2015 economic impact report generated by America’s Research Group.
This summer’s Ark Encounter opening will only reinforce and broaden Northern Kentucky’s draw of the faith-based travel market – a niche that has become one of the area’s “largest marketing segments,” according to Eric Summe, president and CEO of meetNKY, the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Answers in Genesis plans to offer multiday “park hopper” tickets to guests, encouraging them to extend their visits to allow time to visit both attractions, which are roughly 45 minutes apart by car. Since the Ark’s opening date was announced, fall ticket bookings to the Creation Museum are up 300 percent, said Ham – evidence of the popularity of the dual-ticket option. As a result, his company expects to double attendance at the Creation Museum from its current 300,000 average to 600,000 guests a year once the Ark opens. And it estimates that the 10-year economic impact to the region from both attractions will be nearly $4 billion, Ham said.
Long known for bourbon and horses – which are attracting more attention than ever – Kentucky has found new success marketing to visitors who want to experience our beautiful natural areas, urban corridors, craft breweries, wineries, adventure tourism destinations, state and national parks and more.
The soon-to-open Ark and its potential economic boon to Northern Kentucky is just one bright spot among many in Kentucky’s booming travel and tourism industry, which contributed more than $13 billion to Kentucky’s economy – including $8.3 billion in direct expenditures – in 2014, according to an Economic Impact of Kentucky’s Travel and Tourism Industry report released by the Kentucky Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet last May.