As one year anniversary approaches, Ark Encounter a boon for Dry Ridge hospitality businesses, mayor says

06/06/2017 03:52 PM

DRY RIDGE – The Ark Encounter attraction in Williamstown is nearing the end of its first year of operation, and there seems to be many questions that range from how many visitors are actually seeing the attraction, lack of a surge in economic development in some of the surrounding communities, its effect on local businesses and overly generous state and local tax incentives given to the owners of the park.

One community which has seen an increase in revenue with its hospitality businesses is Dry Ridge, located just five minutes north of the Ark encounter on Interstate 75.

Dry Ridge Mayor Jim Wells says his city has seen a significant increase in the town’s average hotel occupancy rate of 60 percent before the Ark attraction opened.

“Our occupancy rates at our hotels in Dry Ridge are 98 percent,” Wells said. “You can’t get a room in Dry Ridge, it’s impossible, and they’re booking out months in advance.”

Plans are in the works to build up to three additional new hotels and restaurants which would double the number of rooms in the city. Wells is also getting an increase in inquiries from hospitality companies exploring the possibilities of locating in Dry Ridge.

Wells sees his city becoming a gateway community to the Ark attraction.

“I want Dry Ridge to be Pigeon Forge to Williamstown’s Gatlinburg,” Wells said. “They have the attraction, but when they’re done with the attraction, they come here, they stay here, they play here, they eat here, and that’s the component we’re working on right now. We’re trying to expand the restaurant opportunities for them the hotels for them to sleep, and then the entertainment for them to do after their Ark Encounter visit.”

The Answers in Genesis ministry, which owns the Ark Encounter, also owns and operates the Creation Museum in Boone County, and Wells is finding that his city is the preferred location for tourists who want to see both attractions to eat and sleep while on their visit to the region.

Williamstown doesn’t seem to be seeing the economic boom from the Ark Encounter, as the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.


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