During the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority's monthly board of directors meeting on Thursday, Jan. 15, Heather Becerra, chief marketing officer for the organization, highlighted some of the tourism group's major accomplishments in 2014.

"Our convention and sports sales team brought in $4.66 million in estimated economic impact to the region in 2014, which is almost $1.4 million more than 2013," explained Becerra. Major convention, meeting and sporting events included the Hot Rod Power Tour, Leon's Triathlon, Salvation Army and the National Softball Association Girl's Fast Pitch "B" World Series.

The sports department hosted the NSA Girls Fast Pitch "B" World Series in July, with opening ceremonies celebrated in downtown Crown Point and softball games played in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties. More than 3,500 room nights were generated from the event. Leon's Triathlon hosted 700 triathletes at Wolf Lake Memorial Park in Hammond. The event was aired on Comcast SportsNet, earning national exposure for Northwest Indiana.

Total room nights generated by sports sales were 10,751, an increase of 5,167 over 2013, with an estimated economic impact of $2,687,750; an increase of $1,291,750.

The convention sales department hosted numerous events in the region, as well as signed contracts for future conventions and conferences. The Hot Rod Power Tour, a one-day car show that was hosted in June, brought 3,277 cars and 11,500 spectators to the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point. Salvation Army hosted their annual meeting at Radisson Hotel Star Plaza, bringing approximately 3,000 attendees and 1,065 room nights. The South Shore CVA also booked the 2015 African American Travel Conference, a group of meeting planners and buyers.

Total room nights generated by convention sales was 7,889, an increase of 402 over 2013, with an estimated economic impact of $1,972,250; an increase of $100,500.

The South Shore CVA secured 45 new partners from Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties, as well as partners from Chicagoland.

Other accomplishments achieved by the tourism group included a record-setting 34,234 attendees for the region-favorite holiday exhibit, "A Christmas Story" Comes Home, securing a new home for the John Dillinger Museum and signing contracts to serve as the official tourism bureau for Newton and Jasper counties.

"The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority has continued to work hard to promote Northwest Indiana. Our new partnerships with Newton and Jasper counties, as well as numerous exciting upcoming sporting events and conferences, will ensure an even more successful year in 2015," stated Speros A. Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore CVA.

The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority leads and supports the visitor industry along the South Shore through the marketing and development of the region from convention, sports, gaming and special interest travel segments, thereby increasing economic impact, creating employment and enhancing the communities' quality of life. For more information on the South Shore CVA, visit www.alongthesouthshore.com.