TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The coronavirus has taken another victim, this time one of the biggest gem shows in the annual Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase, the American Gem Trade Association.
It released this statement:
AGTA Announces Cancellation of
2021 AGTA GemFair™ Tucson
DALLAS, TX (December 1, 2020) - The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) announced today the cancellation of the 2021 AGTA GemFair™ Tucson. “We have worked hand-in-hand with the many show producers in Tucson, and the Pima County Health Department to develop a show that could be safe and conscientious,” said Douglas K. Hucker, AGTA CEO, “unfortunately, with the trajectory of the spread of the coronavirus, the requirements we would need to meet to produce the show, and the health risks associated with a gathering of this size have made the GemFair 2021 untenable and Pima County Health Department has chosen to deny our application for the event.” The cancellation of GemFair, one of the anchors of the Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase, follows the recent cancellations of the Gem and Jewelry Exchange Show (GJX) and the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® (TGMS). 2021 would have been the 39th AGTA GemFair™ Tucson show.
“GemFair Tucson has always been a bedrock of our organization,” shared Ruben Bindra, AGTA President, “it has provided our members with an unparalleled opportunity for commerce and has evolved over the years into an unmatched event that has brought us together each year with all of our friends and family that share our passion for colored gems and cultured pearls. This is a heart-breaking decision, but one that was made in the best interest of all of our attendees.”
“While times are certainly strange right now, it’s important that AGTA works to find new ways to facilitate trade for our members and buyers,” said Hucker. He continued, " whether that be through virtual tradeshows, educational seminars, social media outreach, or online special events, the AGTA will be here to provide those services until we can all meet again in person.” The next AGTA GemFair™ is scheduled for Las Vegas in June 2021, with final dates to be confirmed. The dates for the 2022 AGTA GemFair™ are February 1 – 6, 2022.
“The way this virus has exploded recently, it made making this decision not difficult and it was a unanimous decision of this board,” said Douglas Hucker, CEO of the American Gem Trade Association.
The AGTA has been part of the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase since 1982 and has become a part of the Tucson community. Many of the members have moved to Tucson.
“It’s going to be very hard this year not to do it,” Hucker said. “But we’ll get through.”
The AGTA was denied a permit for their event from the Pima County Health Department but had the right to appeal that decision. It declined to do that.
“With all the surrounding controversy with the health issues and how fast the virus is spiking, we couldn’t in all good conscience move forward with the show,” Hucker said.
There are 350 of the association’s members who show and sell their gems in Tucson, which attracts about 6,000 buyers worldwide.
None of those people will be in Tucson this year which will affect restaurants and hotels as well as other attractions.
It’s estimated the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase pumps abound $130 million annually into the Tucson economy.
But it goes deeper than the most obvious.
“It’s the sign shops, it’s table vendors, the tent vendors, it’s all the different pieces around that,” said Andrew Squire, the Public Information Officer for the city of Tucson. “All of the people who rely on this in part for their annual income, a part of what they count on - that’s gone.”
The city of Tucson still has $16 million left of its Cares Act funding but it’s not known if any of that money will be used to help those who will lose income as a result of the gem show closures.
There are 30 smaller shows which have made plans to open and sell at the show but that’s still in doubt as cases rise, but also because of the time involved and strict guidelines.
“They have to take two weeks when they get here to quarantine, do a show for 10 days, go back home and wait another two weeks to open their shops,” Squire said. “So that’s basically a month and a half.”
Despite the disappointment of the cancellation, Hucker says next year is their 40th anniversary and he promises “it will be a great show.”