IMAGINE a barkada trip in Cagayan de Oro. For three days and two nights, you enjoy the waves of Lauremar beach and discover the wonders of nature in this paradise. Thanks to the Department of Tourism (DOT), this may not only end up as a dream.

For only 3,600 pesos each, you and your barkada can avail yourselves of cheap hotel accommodation and an adventure of a lifetime. This is just one of the adventure-filled tour packages of “Biyaheng Gimik,” a project of the DOT designed for young and hip Filipinos. Biyaheng Gimik was launched with the cooperation of the Convention and Exhibit Management class 3T3 of the UST College of Education last Sept. 24 at the Westin Philippine Plaza. TheDOT tapped the Thomasian Tourism students for the tie-up because of their reputation as efficient handlers of conventions.

With the launching of the project, a photo exhibit was also opened, featuring a display of travel and camping equipment and the major tourist spots in the Philippines.

The more the merrier (and cheaper)

The project promotes domestic tourism and caters to the youth as well as to young professionals. With this, six tour operators were chosen to form a consortium to develop a series of packages of beach, adventure, and leisure tours.

The result: a collection of over 50 tour packages covering our country’s major tourist destinations, from Batanes in the north to Davao down south. Groups can choose from various exciting escapades such as the underground river adventure in Palawan, the Ifugao heritage tour, scuba diving in Puerto Galera, survival camping in Tuguegarao, or volcano trekking on Taal. Other major activities include visits to tribal villages, snorkeling, demonstrations of local arts and crafts, and immersion in local traditions. Ranging from 900 pesos to an astounding but worth-it 11,473 pesos per person, the tour package prices depend on the destination, activities, and duration of the trip. Barkadas may avail themselves of these tour packages by calling any of the six Biyaheng Gimik tour operators—T.R.I.P.S. Travel, Annset Holidays, Baron Travel Corp., Blue Horizons Travel, Marsman Tours and Travel, and Rajah Travel and Tours. STA Travel, another travel company, supports the DOT’s project.

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Moreover, STA Travel offers discount cards specially designed for students and teachers. For only 350 pesos, cardholders get entitled to one-year discounts on air fares, retail shops, and restaurants; reductions at hotels, student entry prices to museums, theme parks, cultural and historic sites around the world; and special rates for bus, coach, train, and ferry tickets.

Commissioner Mark Castrode of the National Youth Commission urged the youth to discover more about their country by traveling. “If we travel, we can be true to who we really are, we’ll be true Filipinos,” he said. He added that there is a lot to discover in the Philippines and capitalizing on our natural resources can make us competitive.

Meanwhile, Marnie Bayag, of Blue Horizons Travel said the youth tned to forget how being tourists in their own country can be instrumental in promoting the Philippines to other people. “How can you promote your country if you haven’t seen it yourself?” he asked. “The Philippines may be a Third-World country, but Filipinos are not Third-World persons. You are First-World persons,” he said.

With Biyaheng Gimik, the youth and young professionals will get the opportunity to experience the pleasures of sffordable domestic travel. With this chance to see the sights, Filipinos will definitely be helpful in promoting local tourism.

Biyaheng Gimik aims to live true to its slogan, “Kada tourist spot na bibisitahin, kada beach na lalanguyin, kada adventure na kakayanin, make this Biyaheng Gimik a barkada escapade you’ll never forget!”

For inquiries, contact any of the Biyaheng Gimik Tour Operators:

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T.R.I.P.S. Travel (8114115, 81114163); Annset Holidays (4006521 to 24); Baron Travel Corp. (8170203); Blue Horizons Travel and Tours (8483901); Marsman Tours and Travel (8870000); Rajah Travel and Tours (5220541 to 48) Those interested in the travel cards may call STA Travel at (632) 848-3901 loc. 27 or visit their website: www.statravel.com.ph. Ma. Charise Lauren C. Adonay

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