Aitken Spence Travels successfully concludes its ‘Big Holiday Beach Clean’ at Ahungalla

31 Jul

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Sri Lanka’s largest Destination Management Company, Aitken Spence Travels organized its own ‘Big Holiday Beach Clean’ event in Ahungalla this July, as a part of TUI Travel PLC’s worldwide series which included destinations such as Mexico, Greece, Turkey and even a reef clean in Egypt, to support ‘Make Holidays Greener Month’, the Travel Foundation’s annual campaign to celebrate greener holidays.

Kicking off with volunteers from Aitken Spence Travels, Heritance Ahungalla and its surrounding local community the event attracted more than 150 participants who cleaned a 3Km beach stretch. The area cleaned also includes the proposed five star, five storied hotel which is the latest hotel project of Aitken Spence Hotels, a joint venture with RIU Hotels of Spain, to be opened in mid-2016. Four hundred kilograms of debris collected included various items of plastics, polythene, metal, foam and glass items, which was handed to Heritance Ahungalla for correct disposal of the substances. Further the collected waste will be analysed to assist in better understanding the scale of the issue and implement additional solutions in the future.

6.4 million tons of marine litter enters the world’s oceans each year, which not only threatens wildlife, but also human health, communities and economies around the world.

A keynote speech delivered by Mr. Ravi de Silva, the Group’s Sustainability Consultant, encouraged the local authorities to keep the beaches clean; and to build simple steps so that the public too can take to protecting the environment and local wildlife. Mr. de Silva further reiterated the importance of balancing the eco-system and its impacts from not following such best practices.

“We are delighted with the outcome of the drive. Sustainability is a key focus area for Aitken Spence Travels. We hope to encourage our customers across destinations on the importance of greener holidays and raise awareness on the issues of sustainability in destinations” noted Mr. Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels.

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The local authority in Ahungalla headed by Mr. A. Dayarathne, the Chairman of the Pradeshiya Saba promised to support the initiative by assisting in creating further awareness amongst the public while ensuring collective actions are taken by the governing authorities on expanding the mindfulness on such campaigns.

The occasion was attended by the Aitken Spence Travels Management – Lasanth Waravita, Mohan Hapuarachchi, Sajith Wijeneyake, Indika Abeykoon, Axel Storz and by the Executive General Manager of Heritance Ahungalla, Refhan Razeen

With a significant presence in Maldives and fully diversified in to every aspect of tourism, Aitken Spence Travels is the leader in destination management in Sri Lanka. Partnered with the world’s largest name in travel, TUI Travel PLC, and with over three decades of experience, the company is backed by a reputation of being the most professional in the business. With the commitment towards offering sustainable tourism, Aitken Spence Travels is endowed the Carbon Neutral status by the Sri Lanka Carbon Fund and maintains ISO 9001:2008 and 14001:2004 certifications.

 

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Aitken Spence Travels the only DMC to be awarded Gold from PATA

30 Jul

Sri Lanka’s largest Destination Management Company, Aitken Spence Travels will be presented the prestigious Gold Award at the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Awards 2014 ceremony, taking place on 19th of September, at the Diamond Island City Hall in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh for its “Elpitiya Plantations Excursions” in the Environment – Ecotourism Project category. Identified from amongst 181 entries from 66 organizations and individuals worldwide, Aitken Spence Travels has been recognized for its concept on tourism innovation and excellence.
PATA is a not-for profit association that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region. The PATA Awards are presented to outstanding entries in four principal categories: Marketing; Education and Training; Environment; and Heritage and Culture.

“We are pleased to be the recipient of this prestigious award as the only Destination Management Company in Sri Lanka for the 2014 PATA awards.  Aitken Spence Travels is always thinking innovatively while placing importance on sustaining the environment that we operate in. Having developed this culture of differentiating ourselves, this award will inspire us to continue our efforts and fulfill the traveler’s needs” noted Mr. Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels.

The award applauds Aitken Spence Travels for successfully transforming the inconspicuous Elpitiya town – that has originated as a result of plantation industry, to an experiential tourism destination. With emphasis on eco-friendly and sustainable practices, ‘Elpitiya Plantations Excursion’ is designed to offer the traveler a memorable experience with its incorporation of activities involving local culture and environment. A trek through the rubber and tea plantation with various native practices such as ‘tapping the rubber tree’ and ‘plucking tea’ contributes to the authentic experience and affirms why the outing is distinctive.

The excursion benefits all segments of stakeholders involved, especially the local community, as a result of healthy interactions between the traveler and the locals. Enriching their livelihood, building strong bonds through cultural exchange of practices has allowed Aitken Spence Travels to place Elpitiya on the map for eco-tourism.

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With a significant presence in Maldives and fully diversified in to every aspect of tourism, Aitken Spence Travels is the leader in destination management in Sri Lanka. Partnered with the world’s largest name in travel, TUI Travel Plc, and with over third decade of experience, the company is backed by a reputation of being the most professional in the business. With the commitment towards offering sustainable tourism, Aitken Spence Travels is endowed the Carbon Neutral status by the Sri Lanka Carbon Fund and maintains ISO 9001:2008 and 14001:2004 certifications.

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Diversification Delivers for Elpitiya Plantations

11 Jul

Aitken Spence-managed Elpitiya Plantations PLC recorded a profit-after-tax of Rs. 480 mn     for the financial year ended 31st March, 2014.  Elpitiya’s exceptional earnings were mainly driven by an excellent performance in oil palm and return on strategic investments made by the company into joint venture projects.

“Profit was commendable as revenue on tea &rubber had declined by around 8 per cent YOY,   following the erratic weather conditions and the poor prices released for natural rubber. Increase in cost of production following revision of the workers’ wages by 20 per cent had a significant impact on the Comp any’s profitability. Our strong results  are  due to the team work by our employees”, said Dr. Rohan M Fernando Managing Director of Elpitiya Plantations PLC and Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

The company’s net assets had increased to Rs.  2.9 bn from Rs. 173 mn at the time of taking over of the estates in 1997. Since taking over, the company has invested over Rs. 3.8 bn  on tea and rubber replanting, factory development, diversification into oil palm & commercial forestry and other capital enhancements.

“New Peacock and Nayapane estates have achieved all-time record yields of 2,855 kg per hectare and 1,979 kg per hectare respectively in tea.   This was made possible due to the good agricultural practices followed on the estates, with special emphasis on fertilizer inputs and upgrading factory machinery. We thank the government for the subsidy given to the industry which has helped us maintain fertilizer levels” said Mr. Tony Goonewardena, Executive Director of Elpitiya Plantations PLC.

Commenting further, Mr. Goonewardena stated that the company’s strategic investments into re-forestation (commercial forestry) and hydro power projects brought in significant income during the financial year under review.   The   joint venture project with Dianhong  International Limited,  to produce  Chinese specialty  black tea and  green tea at the company’s  newly  developed Harrow Tea Factory in Pundaluoya  also contributed substantially to the company’s  profit  along with the income  derived from the palm oil processing factory, which is jointly owned by Elpitiya Plantations PLC  with two other regional plantation companies.

The CEO and Director of Elpitiya Plantations PLC - Mr.Goonewardena

Elpitiya Plantations PLC CEO Bhathiya Bulumulla.

“Company’s strategic diversification programme into large scale palm oil cultivation in the low country region has paid dividends by contributing considerably into the company’s profitability.   Deviturai Estate recorded the highest ever yield of 16,281 kg per hectare on oil palm and Talgaswella Estate, a major tea & oil palm plantation in the low country, has made exceptional returns.” said Mr. Bhathiya Bulumulla, the Chief Executive Officer of Elpitiya Plantations PLC.

The Company also has commenced aneco-tourism project in the low country and planning to extend the same concept on Dunsinane, Sheen and Fernlands estates in the upcountry region in the current year.

Elpitiya Plantations PLC adopts the stringent food safety standards in the production of tea.  Dunsinane, New Peacock, Nayapane  tea factories  in the up country region  and Talgaswella and Deviturai Tea Factories in the Low Country  regions   have been certified for ISO 22000:HACCP  for  Food Safety  Management Standards and  all  the  tea factories  have been certified  for  Ethical Tea Partnership and Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification  for best  practices on   health & safety and  environment Management. The Company is currently working towards obtaining rain forest alliance certification to all   its up country tea estates.

Elpitiya Plantations PLC is committed towards improving the living conditions of the worker population on the plantations.   Projects include construction of new housing units, water and sanitation, for more than 50 housing unit for several estates.Further, plans are underway to construct 510 housing units on Dunsinane & Meddecombra Estates with the assistance of the Indian Government during the years 2014-2016.

As a pilot project, bank accounts were opened for all employees of Talgaswella Estate while the company also has facilitated to provide scholarship grants to 21 children of the estate workers, who excelled in their studies to pursue their higher education at the universities. Elpitiya Plantations  has also pioneered to construct an  elders home on Meddecombra Estate, the first of its kind in the Plantation Sector,  to accommodate and look into the well  being  of 40  retired workers , in collaboration with the French  Donor ‘Foundation Adam Pierre’ at a cost of  over Rs.  25 mn.

The company is continuously exploring sustainable avenues for marketing its produce abroad, especially tea and rubber, in North and Southeast Asia.

Aitken Spence Travels appointed as the official travel agent for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

8 Jul

Aitken Spence Travels has been appointed as one of the two official travel agents for Sri Lanka by the International Cricket Council at the upcoming 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand. The matches will commence by the 14thof February and end by March 2015, with 49 matches to be played at 14 venues across both countries.

The outbound arm of Aitken Spence has exclusively designed world cup packages to give Sri Lankan cricket fans the choice to choose from a variety of bundle options for every type of supporter. Bundles include match tickets and a variety of selections such as travel options and accommodation, VIP experiences, tickets to official events etc.

“We are extremely delighted to be appointed as one of the official travel agents for Sri Lanka by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Based on our success stories in the past where we have charted flights for world cup finals we are confident that our clients and the general cricket loving fans will experience an unparalleled service offered by Aitken Spence when traveling with us to the 2015 world cup” noted Mr. Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels.

Reflecting back the company charted a flight to Pakistan in 1996 when Sri Lanka clinched its first world cup as underdogs to all other test nations. In recent time when Sri Lanka clinched the T20 world cup under Lasith Malinga’s captaincy too; Aitken Spence had the honour of chartering a flight and arranged all related matters to the trip so that it was a memorable final to the passengers who flew.

“Aitken Spence have been involved with ICC events for a number of years now and their skills and expertise in travel were a major part of the organizational success of both ICC events recently held in Sri Lanka – the cricket world cup, 2011 and the world Twenty20, 2012. ICC Travel looks forward to once again working closely with Aitken Spence to deliver a fantastic ICC cricket world cup experience for all Sri Lankan fans travelling to Australia and New Zealand in 2015.” said Damon Minotti, Project Director, ICC Travel.

The early bird offers of the packages for the 2015 world cup will be released by the 3rd week of July enabling cricket loving fans to plan their travel ahead and secure tickets for the matches. Also the company will be having options to personalize the existing packages based on customer requirements. The company has made arrangements to have a dedicated team that would handle walk in customers and any customer who would be hunting for match tickets.

Aitken Spence Travels has been appointed as one of the two official travel agents for Sri Lanka by the International Cricket Council at the upcoming 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand. The matches will commence by the 14thof February and end by March 2015, with 49 matches to be played at 14 venues across both countries.

The outbound arm of Aitken Spence has exclusively designed world cup packages to give Sri Lankan cricket fans the choice to choose from a variety of bundle options for every type of supporter. Bundles include match tickets and a variety of selections such as travel options and accommodation, VIP experiences, tickets to official events etc.
“We are extremely delighted to be appointed as one of the official travel agents for Sri Lanka by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Based on our success stories in the past where we have charted flights for world cup finals we are confident that our clients and the general cricket loving fans will experience an unparalleled service offered by Aitken Spence when traveling with us to the 2015 world cup” noted Mr. Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels.
Reflecting back the company charted a flight to Pakistan in 1996 when Sri Lanka clinched its first world cup as underdogs to all other test nations. In recent time when Sri Lanka clinched the T20 world cup under Lasith Malinga’s captaincy too; Aitken Spence had the honour of chartering a flight and arranged all related matters to the trip so that it was a memorable final to the passengers who flew.
“Aitken Spence have been involved with ICC events for a number of years now and their skills and expertise in travel were a major part of the organizational success of both ICC events recently held in Sri Lanka – the cricket world cup, 2011 and the world Twenty20, 2012. ICC Travel looks forward to once again working closely with Aitken Spence to deliver a fantastic ICC cricket world cup experience for all Sri Lankan fans travelling to Australia and New Zealand in 2015.” said Damon Minotti, Project Director, ICC Travel.
The early bird offers of the packages for the 2015 world cup will be released by the 3rd week of July enabling cricket loving fans to plan their travel ahead and secure tickets for the matches. Also the company will be having options to personalize the existing packages based on customer requirements. The company has made arrangements to have a dedicated team that would handle walk in customers and any customer who would be hunting for match tickets.

Aitken Spence Travels the Outbound arm offers services in air ticket requirements, competitive packages, cruise packages, overseas hotel accommodation, rail ticket services for Raileurope, issuing of currency and travel card, immigration/ visa services, travel insurance & airport drop & pick. Aitken Spence Travels is a

Aitken Spence appoints Mr. Susith Jayawickrama as the Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotels Managements

30 Jun

Diversified conglomerate Aitken Spence announced Mr. Susith Jayawickrama will be appointed as the Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotels Managements (Pvt) Ltd., with effect from 1st of July 2014.

Mr. Susith Jayawickrama a fellow member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants UK, was previously the Deputy Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotel Managements (Pvt) Ltd., the company managing all the Group Hotels in Sri Lanka and overseas.

He serves on the Boards of all the hotel companies in the Group. He has extensive experience at senior management positions in the Group’s hotel sector for almost two decades and has considerable exposure in the tourism industry in Sri Lanka and overseas. He is also the Vice President, Resort Hotels of the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL).

Fiji Ports pays record dividend to government

27 Jun

As published on the the Fijivillage on the 27th of June 2014

The Fiji Ports Corporation Limited has paid a record dividend of $3.698 million to government for the 2013 financial year.

Chairman of Fiji Ports Corporation Limited, Tevita Kuruvakadua said the payment represents a 1.2% increase over prior years and is the highest ever paid by Fiji Ports to the government.

Kuruvakadua said year 2013 signified considerable change for Fiji Ports, a situation brought about through the signing of a Public Private Partnership agreement with Sri Lankan firm Aitken Spence for the management of Ports Terminal Limited.

He said the Fiji Ports Group recorded strong and profitable trading results for 2013, representing successive increases form 2010 onwards.

Kuruvakadua added that the 2013 financial results included extraordinary outcomes, given the recognition of $6.3 million gain on sale for Ports Terminal Limited shares to Aitken Spence.

Story by Filipe Naikaso

Spence signs BOI deal for new $ 100 m hotel with Spanish chain

27 Jun

Published by the Daily FT on the 27th of June 2014

Aitken Spence PLC has entered into an agreement with the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) to set up a five-star luxury resort in Ahungalla.

This agreement was signed by BOI Chairman Dr. Lakshman Jayaweera and the Directors of Aitken Spence Malin Hapugoda and Vipula Goonathilake.

Aitken Spence PLC will launch the first business model involving the Southern Highway and the Mattala Airport by investing in a $ 100 million beach resort in Ahungalla to be managed by an international hotel chain. The five-storey, 500-roomed, five-star luxury resort, which will be managed by RIU Hotels, Spain, would also be a first for the Spanish chain, being their inaugural project in the Asia Pacific region.

“The timing of the hotel’s opening will be right since the Southern Highway to Hambantota is expected to reach completion by then and we have the Mattala Airport facility already in place, giving us the perfect mix for our business model.  Aitken Spence has always encouraged infrastructure development in the country and our investment is proof of our confidence and support of the Government’s development plans,” said Deputy Chairman of the Group Rajan Brito.

The Aitken Spence management is also of the opinion that the private sector needs to develop business modes of this nature, which are in line with the Government’s vision for the country’s development.

BOI stated: “The BOI is very pleased that this project will be started in Ahungalla. The policy of the Government is to get 2.5 million tourist arrivals by 2016. Hence hotel room capacity needs to be increased to meet growing demand.”

The project will also be unique in its concept, since it will introduce charter flights to the country. The hotel which would cater to high end customers looking for long stay vacations will arrive on Boeing 787 Dreamliner charters which can carry up to 200-300 passengers at a time. RIU Hotels is an all-inclusive model which has seen international success across 107 properties managed by them in 16 countries.

This business model spearheaded by the Group would also have a snowball effect in developing the tourist industry, particularly in the deep south of the country.

“This would be a huge boost to the tourism sector as 700-800 guests coming into the country in one go would help in creating international awareness of Sri Lanka as an emerging holiday destination in Asia,” said the Deputy Chairman.

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Heritance Kandalama celebrates 20 years of excellence

24 Jun

Aitken Spence records impressive profit growth of 12% for FY13/14

26 May

 

Aitken Spence, Vauxhall Street

Blue chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC reported its annual unaudited financial results 2013/14 to the Colombo Stock Exchange on Monday, reporting profit attributable to shareholders of Rs 3.7 billion, an increase of 11.7% over the previous year’s profit of Rs 3.3 billion. Profit before tax was Rs 5.4 billion and profit after tax was Rs.4.5, recording growth of 7.6% and 5.5% respectively. The diversified Group’s annual revenue declined marginally to Rs. 36.6 billion whilst earnings per share improved by 11.7% to Rs. 9.04 for the financial year.

The Group’s bottom line was driven primarily by the Tourism sector. Sri Lanka welcomed over 1.27 million tourists during the year 2013, with a target of 1.5 million set for 2014.The boom in the tourism industry was reflected in the Group’s performance with the revenue of the Tourism sector for the financial year growing by 9.4 % to Rs. 16.9 billion and profit before tax surging by 26.3 % to Rs. 4.4 billion. During the period, Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC, the Group’s hotel owning strategic business unit, entered into a shareholders’ agreement with RIU Hotels of Spain to build a 500-room luxury resort in Ahungalla, costing approximately USD 100 million. The construction of the hotel is expected to commence during the second half of the financial year 2014/15.

Annual revenue for the Maritime Cargo Logistics sector increased 15.3% to Rs. 7.3 billion whilst profits before tax for the sector increase by 26% to Rs. 709 million. Entry into a strategic partnership in Fiji for port management services through the acquisition of a 51% shareholding in Ports Terminal Ltd – the first- ever public-private partnership overseas by a Sri Lankan company recorded to date, was a highlight for the year.

Services sector reported a revenue of Rs. 819.6 million for the financial year under consideration which was a growth of 11.5 %, and a profit before tax of Rs 180.5 million, a growth of 10.2% compared to the previous year. Strategic Investments sector reported a year on year decrease of 16.1% in revenue to Rs. 15.3 billion, while the profit before tax dropped by 81.1% to Rs. 159.8 million for the financial year primarily due to the Aitken Spence power plants in Matara and Horana not being operational during the reporting period consequent to the cessation of the Power Purchase Agreements. Further, a provision for impairment of approximately Rs. 400 million was made in respect of the remaining assets of these two companies, which dragged down the profits of the sector.

The company disposed of the Horana power plant during the financial year, while the 100 MW power plant at Embilipitiya remained operational, albeit with lower generation due to excessive rainfall during the first nine months of the financial year. During the period under review the Group inaugurated a land mark project by investing in a luxury retirement homes complex that will comprise of 140 villas and associated high-end facilities located at a 30 acre site in Negombo. The project aims to attract Sri Lankans living overseas who wish to return to their homeland as well as foreign nationals who wish to retire and live in Sri Lanka.

“The Company has been able to deliver consistent results through a combination of strategic foresight and the capacity to transform challenges into opportunities. These qualities have been underpinned by a well-diversified business model that supports the Company’s growth trajectory” said the Chairman, Deshamanya D H S Jayawardena. “Our strategies for the long term and exploration of potential new areas of business factor in the Company’s responses to some of the key future trends” he added.

The Group announced a dividend of Rs. 2 per share which is a 33% increase over the previous year subject to approval by the shareholders at the Annual General Meeting. Aitken Spence PLC is among Sri Lanka’s leading and most respected corporate entities with operations in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South Pacific. It is an industry leader in hotels, travel, maritime services, logistics, power generation and printing, with a significant presence in plantations, financial services, insurance, information technology and apparel.

Aitken Spence Hotels joins the digital revolution with its app for iPads

23 May

Aitken Spence Hotels broke new ground recently with the launch of its first digital application for iPads. The application was designed to provide a comprehensive snapshot of the Aitken Spence Hotels portfolio spread across four diverse destinations; and covers the fundamental facets used by guests to decide on their preferred hotel or resort.

 

A holistic integration of the information of 21 hotels is presented in an interactive seamless platform enabling ease of navigation for the user. The app provides a brief description of each hotel affording guests a glimpse to the roots of the property. The types of accommodation that can be enjoyed by guests are also listed with pictorial representations of the room and its amenities. Information on hotel facilities, dining options, event spaces and excursions can be accessed at the tip of a finger. The information is complimented by an extensive gallery complimenting the sensory journey one engages with when browsing the app. It also provides a unified platform for feedback and reservation inquiries creating easy interaction between Aitken Spence Hotels and potential guests.

 

“The digital revolution has created a fundamental need for businesses to evolve their practices. The launch of an iPad app for Aitken Spence Hotels is one of the many initiatives lined up to evolve our practices to offer our guests an engaging and seamless experience The app is the perfect tool to create brand awareness amongst tour operators, destination management companies and tourists from around the world. We plan to evolve the services that can be offered through the app creating ease of access to the modern traveler” says Mr. Althaf Mohamed Ali, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Aitken Spence Hotels.

Aitken Spence is Sri Lanka’s largest resort operator and the largest international hotel operator in the Maldives. The Group also manages a portfolio of hotels in India and Oman. The company’s premier resorts operate under the brand Heritance.

 

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