60,000 visitors expected at 62nd gem shows
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60,000 visitors expected at 62nd gem shows

The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase is here. The city held a kickoff event Friday with a welcome speech from the mayor. Here are five things to know:

This is number 62.

It’s the 62nd annual show, but “it started teeny and tiny when the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show began their process of educating and teaching folks about the minerals, gems and mining in our world and in our state,” said city gem show liaison Andy Squire.

The number of visitors is 50,000 to 60,000.

Many visitors will navigate the 45 show locations using a new app from Visit Tucson. It’s called the Official Tucson Gem Show Guide and it’s available for Apple and Android devices.

The economic impact is more than the sales of beads and baubles.

“The gem show has a huge positive impact on our local economy,” Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said.

A study showed $120 million in direct spending during the 2014 gem show. Hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and other local businesses benefit, the mayor said.

The free shuttle service, called GemRide, has expanded to 36 stops.

It will run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Feb. 14.

The city pays for the service and also helps support the shows with a liaison from the city manager’s office, tent inspections from the fire department, temporary crosswalks, and a temporary police command center, among other things.

New this year for local businesses is a welcoming campaign.

Visit Tucson has distributed window clings to taxis, car services and streetcars, window signs for local businesses and shiny lapel pins for local leaders. They say, “Welcome Tucson Gem Shows.” The mayor said he wants gem show visitors to find “warm weather and warm people” in Tucson.

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