The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Board has approved $18 million in tax breaks for a controversial Christian theme park in Northern Kentucky.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve sales tax incentives for the Ark Encounter, a religious theme park to be built in Williamstown, Ky., by a company controlled by Answers in Genesis, a conservative Christian non-profit that also operates the Creation Museum.
The project is slated to include a facsimile of Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel, and will proselytize Christian evangelicalism to patrons, according to an Answers in Genesis spokesman.
Finance board chairman Keith Williams said the project was evaluated like any other that comes before the panel, and a preliminary analysis of its economic impact bodes well for the state.
“They could produce a good amount of tourism for the state of Kentucky. It could help the hotel industry, the restaurant industry in that entire area. So if that is the case, and it does boost tourism, then they, yeah, they meet that criteria," Williams said.
The project will be eligible for $18 million in sales tax breaks over ten years if its attendance generates sufficient economic activity in and around the park.
Ark Encounter has stalled multiple times over the last few years due to difficulties in securing bonds to finance its construction.
Critics of the development contend that financial support of religious projects like the Ark Encounter blur the line between church and state.
The state will conduct its own analysis of Ark Encounter before it grants final approval of the tax breaks.