P3 million fund seen to boost ‘banca’ cruise promotion

By JADE LOPEZ, Reporter

THE Islands Group, which operates the Islands Banca Cruises in Cebu, has infused a fresh capitalization of P3 million to further boost Cebu’s positioning as the island hopping destination in the Philippines.

Islands Group President and Chief Executive Officer Jay Aldeguer said the capital expenditure include investments like the acquisition of five new “bancas” (motorized pumpboats), marketing promotion in both local and international markets, and the expansion of its mini-call center facility to help accommodate the increase in booking transactions.

Aldeguer said the company is getting a minimum of 25 inquiries per day, as it also mulls to increase their trip specialist manpower, who are tasked to assist clients with their island hopping itinerary.

Islands Banca Cruises has now turned into an “all-in-one” travel specialist, wherein the company will arrange a client’s trip to Cebu including hotel accommodation, airline bookings, and land transfers.

Apart from island hopping, the company also offers other water-sport activities such as snorkeling, dive safaris (Malapascua, Moalboal, Bohol and Dumaguete); fish feeding (Gilutungan, Nalusuan and Talima); Lechon Barbeque Picnic in several islets in Cebu like Pandanon, Gilutungan, Nalusuan and Camugi, Sunset Diners; dolphin watching (Sogod, Camotes); and kayaking (Mactan, Olango and Gilutungan),among others.

Unlike the traditional pumpboat ride, Islands Banca offers beverages, light snacks, and toiletries and spa services on board, with comfortable bean bags. It also offers water-sports equipment for rent.

“We see a huge potential to grow this business and make Cebu the destination for island hopping activities,” the Cebuano entrepreneur said.

Because of his optimism about the business, Aldeguer said the company is presently maintaining eight bancas and is looking at adding two more of these motorized pumpboats next month, which is the peak of island hopping activities.

In a span of one year from operation, Islands Banca Cruises has made partnerships with property owners of neighboring islands in Cebu to bring visitors to these islands or islets, while providing business opportunities and jobs for island residents.

Part of the company’s forceful marketing efforts is to boost its online marketing tool and participating in international exhibits to promote Cebu’s adventure tourism sectpor.

Recently, Aldeguer said Islands Banca Cruise joined international travel trade fairs abroad, including an international travel fair held in Germany.

Aldeguer said one of the company’s strategies to draw international clients is to push for the three-day island hopping cruise, where the company will partner with resorts owners in Bantayan Island or Malapascua, even as far as Panglao Island in Bohol, to pursue this innovative Island hopping activity package specifically for
foreigners.

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