Ham said the Ark hosted 500,000 visitors in the six months it was open in 2016. A staffer said about 645,000 guests have visited the 510-foot replica of Noah’s Ark. Ham called the Ark a success but its success has not had quite the ripple effect that many in Grant County expected.
“It’s been a great thing but it’s not brought us any money,” said Grant County Judge-Executive Steve Wood during a break from a budget meeting.What seems to be happening is that the people that are coming to the Ark Encounter aren't patronizing the local establishments or adding to the local economy at all. Even the passing of a bill authorizing the building of bars didn't help. Hermant Mehta at Patheos has some thoughts about this:
The county is teetering on bankruptcy and is trying to balance the budget. Wood said they were to the point where jobs may have to be cut. He will propose a 2% payroll tax at next week’s fiscal court meeting. He blames prior fiscal courts for the budget crisis, not the Ark. But he said the Ark had not lived up to its promise.
“I was one of those believers that once the Ark was here everything was going to come in. But it’s not done it. It’s not done it. I think the Ark’s done well and I’m glad for them on that. But it’s not done us good at all.”
The types of businesses that cater to alcohol-drinking customers aren’t swayed by a theme park aimed at fundamentalist Christians.I am trying to work up sympathy for the local government who, over protests, authorized these tax breaks. They bought into the Disneyization of Christianity and, rather than see people coming to Christ, they saw dollar signs.
Despite people visiting Ark Encounter right now, business owners don’t see it as a long-term success and don’t want to invest in the surrounded areas as a result.
Ark Encounter’s existence raised the property values in surrounding areas, pushing away potential businesses.
Whatever the reason is, it seems fair to say that Grant County leaders doubled down on the idea that Ark Encounter would create tremendous economic benefit for everyone in the area. That hasn’t happened yet. There are also no signs that that will change in the future. They gambled and lost, and they were duped by the Creationists who promised them the world.