Famed creationist Ken Ham has predicted that the Ark Encounter theme park, which celebrated its first anniversary of opening last Friday, will draw more visitors in the coming year.
According to Eagle Country Online, the theme park, located along Interstate 75 in Grant County, Kentucky, has attracted one million visitors in its first year, with more than 6,000 tourists showing up to view the 510-feet long, 50-feet tall structure in some days.
In an op-ed published by Cincinnati.com last week, Ham said that Answers in Genesis, which owns the theme park, has "confidently" predicted that the Ark Encounter will have even greater attendance in 2017–2018 compared to its inaugural year.
Ham, who serves as the president of Answers in Genesis, noted that a state-commissioned study had expected the Ark Encounter to attract only 325,000 visitors in the first year, but that figure was reached in less than three months.
However, Ham said that attendance at the Ark is being limited by the lack of nearby hotel rooms.
"While tourism-related businesses are thriving in Grant County, especially in the city of Dry Ridge, more tourist facilities are desperately needed to handle the Ark crowds. The lack of hotel rooms limits us to 7,500 to 8,000 guests visiting the Ark in a day," Ham wrote.
"[S]o it needs more businesses like hotels and restaurants if it hopes to experience the growth that Dry Ridge is now enjoying," he went on to say.
The famed creationist noted that there are plans to build three new hotels and two restaurants in Grant County because of the theme park.
Ham has previously noted that the original projection of 1.1 million to 2.2 million visitors was not reached because the prediction was made for "normal years," and that the park has not been operating normally yet.
According to The Christian Post, official attendance numbers will not be released by the state until later this summer.
Answers in Genesis is expecting to have 2 to 3 million visitors each year over the next decade for both the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum, which is another tourist attraction operated by the ministry in Petersburg.
The creationist organization claims that the Ark Encounter's first-year economic impact is about $200 million. Apart from the replica of Noah's Ark, the theme park also boasts of a petting zoo, zip lines, live entertainment, a restaurant, and a shopping area.