New study to measure gem show revenue - Tucson News Now

New study to measure gem show revenue

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A new economic impact study launched by Tucson's Visitors Bureau aims to measure how much revenue the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase will bring to the city.

It will be the first comprehensive study in seven years; the last one conducted in 2007 showed a $100 million economic impact for the city of Tucson, according to Visit Tucson President Brent DeRaad.

DeRaad said his office has observed strong sales so far, adding that up to 50,000 visitors come to the Old Pueblo for the weeks-long treasure hunt. But measuring just how much they spend can be tricky.

"We're really trying to figure out not only what types of gems and beads they're buying but also how long are they staying? Was the gem show the primary reason they visited?" DeRaad said.

It was for Lynn Thompson, who traveled from Sierra Vista to visit the Pueblo Mineral and Gem Show at the Riverpark Inn downtown. Every year, Thompson brings her students from Berean Academy to buy stones.

"We're actually looking for things that they can make jewelry in class," Thompson said.

Repeat visitors like Thompson are just what the city hopes for.

"A lot of times in economic studies there will be a multiplier that looks at dollars that are re-circulated within the community," DeRaad said. "We're mostly interested in direct spending though. We just want to figure out with this event, is this the reason why visitors are coming, or is it just a complimentary thing to do?"

DeRaad's projection for 2014's results is more cautious, due to the recession years of 2008 and 2009.

"Once that hit, we lowered our estimate down to about $65 million just to be conservative on what that impact will be," he said.

But busy foot traffic inside the Riverpark Inn on Thursday was evidence of an uptick in business. The show manager said this is one of the best year's he's had, with 50 more exhibitors than last year.

DeRaad said Visit Tucson is working with Tucson-based research firm FMR Associates in the study and should have preliminary results six weeks after the showcase is over.

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