Vol. XXII, No. 46 [ BusinessWorld Online ]
Monday, September 29, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES
CEBU — The Aldeguer Group launched at the weekend island-hopping services that seek to promote Islands as a major tourism brand and promote adventure tourism in Cebu.
With three company-owned motorized outrigger boats and seven other outsourced boats, the Islands Banca Cruises Corp. can bring tourists and diving enthusiasts to as far as Apo Island in the south and Bantayan Island in the north.
Jay P. Aldeguer, Islands president and chief executive officer, said two more boats that are being built will be completed next month. They hope to have at least 15 company-owned and outsourced Islands boats by summer next year.
Mr. Aldeguer said the venture, which had an initial capital of only P2 million, expands their product line under the Islands brand, supports the government’s thrust to promote adventure tourism, and provides access to the small remote islands surrounding Cebu.
Products carrying the Islands brand include T-shirts and souvenir items under Islands Souvenirs, gift centers, and Islands & More convenience shops for travelers.
"Adventure tourism is picking up in the Philippines. We feel we have to continuously come up with products that will make Cebu more attractive to tourists," Mr. Aldeguer said.
Island-hopping is not new in Cebu, but the company thinks it has raised the bar to make the service world-class. An Islands Banca, the biggest of which can carry up to 40 persons, has an iPod dock, wireless Internet access, a wide open deck lined with bean bags, towels and cold drinks. An experienced crew is also on hand to serve passengers.
Aside from island-hopping, Mr. Aldeguer said they also offer dive safaris to Pescador Island, Monad Shoal and Shark View Point, among others. Other activities are fish feeding in the islands of Gilutungan and Nalusuan, picnics, sunset dinners, chill-out cruises, children’s parties and dolphin watching.
"I think there’s a huge market for this It’s a thriving business and what we’re doing is just tweak it a bit," he said. The services might be expanded to Bohol and Boracay in the future, but Mr. Aldeguer said he thinks the market in Cebu would be more than enough to keep them busy in the next couple of years.
Meanwhile, two more Islands & More shops will be opened in the last quarter — one in Boracay and another in Manila. There are three outlets in Cebu, which were opened last month. — Marites S. Villamor