July 11, 2018 (Milwaukee, WI) — Connect, a leader in the meetings, events, travel and tourism industry, recently announced the 2018 Connect Sports Tourism Excellence Awards, presented by Best Western. The Excellence Awards recognize some of sports tourism’s most deserving individuals and most dynamic events. Winners will be honored at Connect Sports, Aug. 23-25, in Salt Lake, Utah. The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) will receive the Connect Sports: LGBTQ Sporting Event of the Year for their flagship annual sporting event, the NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series (GSWS). Last year’s GSWS event brought close to $10 million to the Portland economy through travel and tourism spending. The event plans to bring the same, if not more, to the Tampa Bay economy for this year’s GSWS.
“The Connect Sports Tourism Excellence Awards, presented by Best Western, have been designed to recognize the best in our industry,” says Patrick Higgins, Connect’s vice president of Marketplaces. “These awards celebrate specific types of events and the people and venues who ensure their success.”
All nominees in the LGBTQ Sporting Event of the Year category must be primarily LGBTQ-athlete focused and have a component that benefits the host community. Each year NAGAAA hosts the Gay Softball World Series in conjunction with a NAGAAA member association host committee and countless community volunteers. Proceeds from the week-long event benefits local non-profits.
Chris Balton, NAGAAA commissioner, will be accepting the Excellence Award on behalf of NAGAAA and had this to say, “This honor is well-deserved and goes out to our entire NAGAAA family — each and every board member, committee chair, delegate, NAGAAA member association leader, player, fan, volunteer and partner/sponsor —participating in our 45 member associations in the US and Canada.” He continued, “It would be remiss of me not to mention Connect and the Connect Sports LGBT Task Force members who also have deserving events. We each strive for the best and NAGAAA cannot thank Connect enough for creating a community for all LGBT Sports to elevate their events, streamline processes and improve their bottom line by working with local CVBs, ASCs and other travel/tourism-related professionals.”
In an email note to Balton, announcing NAGAAA’s honor, Higgins, wrote, “It’s been an honor and a privilege to be working with you, CJ and the rest of the NAGAAA family for the last few years and I’m very excited to celebrate what NAGAAA has achieved in Salt Lake this August.”
Connect is a leader in the meetings, events, travel and tourism industry. Specializing in destination marketing, the company produces digital programs, online and mobile solutions, meetings business and travel magazines, trade shows and consumer events, travel guides for newspapers and leisure magazines, and destination information, which is distributed through broadcast and custom programs. More information about the company’s brands and services is available at connectmeetings.com.
About North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA)
Formed in 1977, NAGAAA is a 501(c)(3) international sports organization comprised of men and women dedicated to providing opportunity and access for the LGBT community to participate in organized softball competition in safe environments. Currently, more than 17,000 players from 45 cities across Canada and the United States participate in member leagues, and the best of these teams converge once a year for head-to-head competition at the annual Gay Softball World Series. For over four decades, NAGAAA has been a safe place for LGBT athletes to compete. Member associations compete in six divisions — A, B, C, D, Masters Classic and Masters Legends. In August of 2018, our 42nd NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series will be held in Tampa Bay, Florida. More information about NAGAAA and its member associations can be found at nagaaasoftball.org.