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House votes to boost tourism to the US

WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives voted today to pass H.R. 4450, the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act. The legislation authored by Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus co-chair Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., and co-sponsored by co-chair Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., and caucus member Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.,  reauthorizes Brand USA – a public-private partnership designed to encourage tourism to the United States. Travel and tourism is the United State’s top export industry and Brand USA’s efforts have already brought an additional 1.1 million visitors to the United States. The bipartisan legislation passed 347-57.
 
“Tourism is an integral part of our economy – especially in Florida. Increased tourism means more American and Floridian jobs. My legislation means job growth without utilizing a dime of taxpayer dollars. Millions of Americans across the country are still struggling, and H.R. 4450 will help them get back to work. Brand USA reauthorization is a jobs bill,” Bilirakis declared.
 
“I am proud that my colleagues have joined me in a bipartisan effort to pass H.R. 4450 in the House of Representatives. The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act will increase Brand USA’s efficiency, effectiveness, transparency – it is a huge step forward for the accountability of the program,” Bilirakis continued. “It is my hope the Senate will pass the companion bill, S. 2250.”
 
“We have to compete globally if we want to create jobs locally,” said Farr. “That starts with marketing America to the world as a premier travel destination.  Brand USA brings in more global visitors to spend money at local shops, hotels and restaurants in communities throughout the United States. This legislation builds upon our success in the international travel and tourism market which strengthens our economy here at home.”
 
Brand USA, which is completely funded by international visitors and private industry contributions, is the country’s first national Destination Marketing Organization and markets the United States as a premier travel destination to world. The program’s efforts bring substantial benefits to our economy with a return on investment of more than 30 to 1. Brand USA’s activities brought in an additional 1.1 million visitors to the United States, resulting in a $7.4 billion impact on the economy and supported the creation of over 50,000 new jobs in fiscal year 2013. 
 
H.R. 4450 also enhances Brand USA by adding a number of accountability and transparency requirements. Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, and Roy Blunt, R-Mo.   
 
The legislation has broad support by the travel and tourism industry. A complete list of groups that support H.R. 4450 can be found at http://1.usa.gov/1qoaC7s
 
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Travel and Tourism Caucus co-chairs statement on committee approval of travel bill

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus co-chairs Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif. and Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla. released the following joint statement in response to the House Energy & Commerce Committee approval of H.R. 4450, the Travel Promotion, Enhancement and Modernization Act of 2014:
 
"As co-chairs of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, we are pleased to announce that the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 (HR 4450) was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee today. This bill will enable our country to increase its success in the international traveler market by reauthorizing Brand USA. It’s our nation’s Destination Marketing Organization or DMO, and it will allow them to bring greater numbers of international travelers to our shores.
 
'These travelers provide a substantial boost to our economy and produce many U.S. jobs. We know that international visitors coming to the United States are measured as an export, and travel and tourism is the top export industry. Number One! Seventy million international visitors, spending over $180 billion dollars, have produced a trade surplus every year since 1989 – and Brand USA is a crucial part of this. A recent Brand USA report showed that FY13 saw an increase of 1.1 million visitors. That increase brings an additional $3.4 billion in spending to our economy and supports over 50,000 new jobs.
 
'These international visitors, and their economic benefits, travel throughout America to major destinations like New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, and Chicago. And yet, it is our “amber waves of grain” and “purple mountain majesties” that attract travelers to all corners of our country.
 
'The benefits from international visitors are substantial, and Brand USA is a real value that produces a considerable return on investment - more than 30 to 1. That’s an unbeatable deal that is done at no U.S. taxpayer expense. The funding for this program is provided by the international visitors that come to the United States.
 
'This bill has consistently had bipartisan support. It passed out of committee with bipartisan support and is cosponsored by over 140 Members, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.
 
"As co-chairs of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, we like to say that travel and tourism is in every state, every territory, and congressional district across this country. We are excited to see this legislation move forward, and, if you haven’t done so already, we ask you to join us in our strong support of HR 4450."
 
The legislation also has broad support by the travel and tourism industry. A complete list of groups that support H.R. 4450 can be found here.
 
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Brand USA bill receives unanimous vote

WASHINGTON, DC –The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade voted unanimously to pass H.R. 4450, the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act today.  The legislation authored by Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus co-chair Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., and co-sponsored by co-chair Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., and caucus member Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.,  strengthens the United States’ competitiveness in the global travel and tourism markets by reauthorizing Brand USA – a public-private partnership designed to encourage tourism to the United States. H.R. 4450 also enhances Brand USA by adding a number of accountability and transparency requirements.
 
“The United States is a global hub for commerce and travel, and an exceptional attraction for international tourists. Tourism is the lifeblood of our economy. Increased tourism means more American jobs,” Bilirakis said. “I am proud that my colleagues have joined me in a bipartisan effort to pass H.R. 4450 through the Subcommittee. The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act will increase Brand USA’s efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency. My legislation means promoting economic growth while not utilizing a dime of taxpayer dollars. It is time to get Americans across the country back to work.”
 
“Competing globally creates jobs locally,” said Farr. “The travel and tourism industry is our nation’s number one export, supporting one in nine jobs. Bringing in more global travelers is not only necessary to grow our national economy but it will strengthen local economies in every single community throughout the country. Congressman Bilirakis has done a great job moving this legislation that builds upon the success of the Brand USA program and today’s unanimous vote shows the strong support it has in Congress.”
 
Brand USA, which is completely funded by international visitors and private industry contributions, is the country’s first national Destination Marketing Organization and markets the United States as a premier travel destination to world. The program’s activities brought in an additional 1.1 million visitors to the United States, resulting in a $7.4 billion impact on the economy and supported the creation of over 50,000 new jobs in fiscal year 2013. 
 
The bipartisan bill has attracted more than 137 co-sponsors in the House. Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, and Roy Blunt, R-Mo.  
 
The legislation also has broad support by the travel and tourism industry. A complete list of groups that support H.R. 4450 can be found at http://1.usa.gov/1qoaC7s
 
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Farr challenges Central Coast to join him in getting healthy

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, will start a 30-day challenge to eat healthier and exercise more and is encouraging Central Coast residents to join him. Mary Toscano, a certified nutrition educator and author of the book “Sweet Fire: Sugar, Diabetes & Your Health,” came up with the Sam Farr Challenge after meeting with the Congressman in his Washington office on behalf of the American Diabetes Association. The challenge starts on Monday, July 14th.
 
“I have been involved in the national debate about the health of our country but to be honest a hectic Congressional schedule makes it difficult to eat right and exercise daily,” said Farr. “However, when it comes to health, it’s not enough to talk the talk. It's time to walk the walk...literally.”
 
The Sam Farr Challenge is based on 3 simple rules and has two levels. The basic level calls for participants to avoid alcohol after 7:30 pm, consume no more than one serving of bread or pasta per day (whole grains preferred) and walk 7,000 steps or exercise for 30 minutes every day. The extreme challenge increases the number of steps to 10,000 or 1 hour of exercise and participants should avoid any foods made with flour or contain more than 20 grams of sugar.
 
“I invited Congressman Farr to a special, 30-day challenge and he said yes!” said Toscano. “We both saw the opportunity to open this challenge to the public to improve the health of many. We look forward to everyone’s participation as the date draws near. Join us!”
 
Anyone interested in joining the challenge should visit www.samfarrchallenge.com to sign up for free.  Participants will receive email updates, encouragement videos and other resources to help with their own personal challenge. Farr will provide updates on his social media about his journey.
 
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Senate passes Farr bill to name new joint VA-DOD clinic after General Gourley

WASHINGTON, DC – The Senate today passed Rep. Sam Farr’s, D-Carmel, bill to name the future joint Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense outpatient clinic at the former Fort Ord the "Major General William H. Gourley VA-DOD Outpatient Clinic.” The bill, H.R. 272, honors Gen. Gourley for his lifetime of service to his country, his fellow members of the military and Central Coast veterans. The Senate vote was unanimous in support of the bill.
 
“General Gourley used to champion what he called his 10 Golden Rules,” said Farr. “His 10th Golden Rule was ‘Make a better Army and Corps for your subordinates to inherit.’ He carried that mantra into his retirement and his work with California veterans. It is great to see that his efforts to leave behind a better Central Coast will be honored at the clinic he helped build.”
 
Gen. Gourley, who passed away in 2008, was instrumental in the clinic's development. His interest in designating a section of Fort Ord as a joint clinic for both veterans and service members began when the base closed in 1994. Because of his efforts, the clinic, which is only the second joint clinic in the United States, will serve over 80,000 active duty service members, their families and veterans. 
 
Ground was broken last Veterans Day and the clinic is expected to open in the fall of 2016. The three-story building, 104,000-square-foot facility will provide primary care and specialty care including medical/surgical subspecialty clinics, mental health care, audiology, physical and occupation therapy, ancillary and diagnostic services. The clinic will replace the VA’s existing clinic which is too small to serve the current population and cannot be expanded.
 
Gen. Gourley's military service began in the late 1950s when he served in Germany, where he shared MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) with Elvis Presley. He later served in Korea and Vietnam. After returning from his tour in Vietnam, he was assigned to the Pentagon and rose to work with then General Colin Powell on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
 
In his retirement, Gen. Gourley worked to enhance life for active duty soldiers and veterans living in Central California by working to improve TRICARE service on the Monterey peninsula; establish a veterans cemetery on the old Fort Ord; make health care more affordable and accessible to military retirees; and placing the groundwork for the joint DOD-VA health care clinic.
 
The bill passed the House of Representatives in November and now heads to the White House for the President’s signature.
 
Artistic rendering of the clinic: