Heritance Kandalama, the pioneer of sustainable hospitality turns 25 years

24 Jun

True progress can only be achieved when development is inclusive, responds to pressing needs and is sustainable environmentally, socially and economically. A green building was unheard of 25 years ago, let alone a five-star deluxe hotel property with 152 rooms with all facilities, that would protect and enrich its surrounding ecosystem in its pristine condition, provide sustainable income to the local communities and offer high-quality service to a plethora of visitors from across the globe. It always seems impossible till it is done. From the pearl of the Indian ocean, nestled among the lush greens in the Cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, the world got an example of sustainable development in the form of Heritance Kandalama. Today, Heritance Kandalama celebrates 25 years.

 

Intelligent design, Sustainable in its operation

Designed by renowned architect Deshamanya Geoffrey Bawa, the hotel resembles outspread wings of a bird, following the line of the cliff from which it seems to emerge. Due to the raised platform of the structure, natural water streams that passed through the area 25 years ago still flow unobstructed, enriching over 30 water systems downstream. Conceptualised to blend into the eco-system, the hotel allows freedom of movement for wildlife and vegetation.

Today, 100% of its wastewater and effluents are treated and repurposed; solid waste is segregated to more than 20 diverse types of waste and monitored to achieve an ambitious goals of zero waste reaching landfill; and energy is managed to reduce emissions. The hotel has undertaken the conservation of 58 acres of forest area, flora and fauna within the hotel and another 198 acres of forest cover adjacent to the property in its pristine condition protecting  128 species of native flora, 183 species of birds, 19 species of reptiles, 64 species of dragons and butterflies. The Eco Park at Heritance Kandalama has educated more than 3 million visitors to date.

Heritance Kandalama, part of Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC, is the first LEED certified hotel in the world and the first building outside USA to be certified (LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world). It is also the first Green Globe 21 certified hotel in Asia and perhaps the most awarded hotel property in Sri Lanka.

 

Part of the community

The hotel started its journey by employing 80 local individuals from the area in 1993 with little to no experience in customer handling and hospitality. With the commitment of Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC, these individuals have developed with the property. Now, our award-winning team is strengthened by over 60% members who are from the immediate community. With the policies of the property to give priority to local employment and purchasing, many suppliers are also local entrepreneurs.

 

25 years of celebrations

To commemorate this iconic concept that is more than just a hotel, the management has planned several events with the engagement of the local communities and institutions. Follow the property on social media to mark this occasion with the property and stand a chance to be a lucky winner of a memorable experience at the hotel.

For more details on Heritance Kandalama, log on to http://www.heritancehotels.com/kandalama

Advertisements

MS Europa 2 Selects Aitken Spence Travels to Offer Shore Excursions in Sri Lanka

12 Jun

Hapag-Lloyd’s luxury cruise liner the MS Europa 2 called over at the Hambanthota Port and the Colombo port for a 4 day stay in Sri Lanka. Aitken Spence Travels Cruise team was responsible for the operation of all the shore excursions for its passengers and was present in both locations to ensure that all guests who had booked a shore excursion were off on their tour on time without any difficulties and operational drawbacks.

Of the 350 guests on board, over 200 passengers went on shore excursions in Hambanthota, visiting Yala national park, Udawalawe, Bundala, Ella & Kataragama. The unique experiences encountered at Kataragama visiting the Buddhist and Hindu temples brings about serenity and peace where some guests go to the extent of sharing their problems and looking for mental peace apart from enjoying the abundance of wildlife Sri Lanka has to offer. On day two the clients took excursions to Galle, visited the Galle fort and experiencing village tours. When the passengers were in Colombo on the wet gloomy Friday of 7th June, they still went about their Helicopter tours to Kandy, took the Fixed wing flights to Sigiriya, embarked on discovering the Colombo highlights tour and enjoying the first-hand experience of low grown tea plantations. The AST Cruise team also handled the passenger turnaround on the 8th  of June for approx. 250 passengers.

Shore Excursions Manager of MS Europa 2 Mr. Werney Beyer, who has been to Sri Lanka previously, personally loves the destination and was of the view that “this country shouldn’t suffer as Sri Lanka has so much to offer and I just love this country’s diversity. The Cruise team at AST has done a wonderful job of organising the busses, the guides, diverse excursions and ensuring precision timing that we have had no complaints from our passengers. In effect, since the April 21st crisis, MS Europa 2 was considering moving to Maldives instead of Sri Lanka. But the local team was extremely vigil and continuously updating us about the security situation of the country, that Hapag-Lloyd did not implement plan B of moving to Maldives. I am very happy that we didn’t move to Maldives as our clients have shared excellent feedback and reviews of their stay and experiences in Sri Lanka”.

Commenting further, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels Mr. Nalin Jayasundera stated, “when all the other cruise liners were cancelling their tours, MS Europa 2 was confident about destination Sri Lanka and we are glad that they experienced the improved security, visitors would enjoy while in Sri Lanka. We also appreciate the support extended by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority/ Hambanthota International Port Services and their security teams, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Hapag Lloyd Lanka (pvt) Ltd. and our service providers for ensuring that these guests had an enjoyable experience of Sri Lanka taking back memories to last.”

Aitken Spence Travels, the largest inbound tour operator in Sri Lanka served more than 200,000 happy visitors during its FY 2018/19. This is also by far the largest number of visitors handled by any Destination Management Company in Sri Lanka and was also the recipient of the Sri Lanka Tourism Awards 2018 as best DMC. The company is backed by JV partners TUI and Aitken Spence PLC, enjoying the best of both worlds, strongly facing the future confidently even after the setbacks faced by the country.

 

Aitken Spence Maritime facilitates the first cruise ship to call on Sri Lankan ports following the April aftermath

6 Jun

The luxury cruise ship “MS EUROPA 2”, owned by German operator Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten Hamburg, recently called on the Ports of Hambantota and Colombo with 309 passengers and 356 crew onboard. Aitken Spence Maritime is the agent in Sri Lanka for Hapag-Lloyd which is one of the largest container shipping lines in the world.  MS Europa and MS Europa 2 are the only cruise ships in the world classified with 5-star rating by the legendary Berlitz Cruise Guide. MS Europa 2 is regarded as the new jewel of the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises fleet.

“We are extremely delighted that Aitken Spence Maritime facilitated the first cruise ship to call on two Ports of Sri Lanka after the unfortunate incidents that took place in April 2019. It is also encouraging for the team to see their efforts materialise and with the Group’s active involvement in the leisure industry, the company will continue to offer comprehensive synergised services to cruise operators,” said Iqram Cuttilan, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Maritime.

“Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten having made frequent calls to Trincomalee, Hambantota, Galle and Colombo will also include their ships in its schedule for 2019/20. In fact, Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten has selected Sri Lankan Ports as the beginning and end of their voyages, enabling passengers to embark and disembark in Sri Lanka,” said Lalith Witanachchi, Assistant Vice President of Hapag-Lloyd Lanka.

Hapag-Lloyd’s local agent, Aitken Spence Maritime, is a pioneer in the industry and was the first in Sri Lanka to undertake port efficiency enhancement management overseas with its entry into the African Continent and subsequently the South Pacific Islands. The company handles all areas of maritime services – from ship agents and cargo handlers, to liner agency, cruise vessel, port management and development, chartering services and maritime education.

Aitken Spence PLC Crowned Overall Winner at the ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards 2018

6 Jun

Leading blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC was recently adjudged the ‘Overall Winner’ at the ACCA Sri Lanka Sustainability Reporting Awards 2018. ACCA Sri Lanka has felicitated Sri Lanka’s best sustainability reports for over 15 years.

In addition to receiving the most prestigious award of the event, Aitken Spence PLC was declared a Joint Winner in the ‘Conglomerates & Diversified Category’. The Sustainability Reporting Awards are held with the objective of recognising and rewarding organisations which report and disclose information on environmental and social performance, and to encourage corporate transparency, accountability and responsiveness to stakeholders.

With selections carried out by an eminent panel of judges, the ceremony acknowledged corporates for their efforts to raise awareness across a broad range of aspects dedicated to sustainable development. The Aitken Spence PLC annual report was evaluated, succeeding against ACCA’s main judging criteria of completeness, credibility and communication. Aitken Spence PLC was also the joint winner of the Conglomerates and Diversified category.

By aligning its sustainability strategy and reporting procedures with global best practices and benchmark such as the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, the 7 Women’s Empowerment Principles, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Global Reporting Initiative and the guidelines of the International Integrated Reporting Council, Aitken Spence PLC implemented a holistic approach to its sustainability commitments with a long-term perspective that is reflected in the triple bottom line.

“At Aitken Spence PLC, we view sustainability as a prerequisite towards resilient growth.  With a focus on long term value creation, the Company’s sustainability efforts are directed and guided from the top management in order to adopt a strategic approach for corporate sustainability. In a group having 16 lines of industry in four business sectors and diverse segments of stakeholders across different communities, sustainability has been integrated into the very spirit of the organisation to ensure longevity in its business environments.

We are delighted and humbled by this recognition for our work. The unwavering dedication and support shown by the team and that combined with the systems and procedures that we have in place has been our winning formula throughout the years. Having marked the sesquicentennial of the Aitken Spence Group last year, we remain committed to working towards sustaining the long-term viability, profitability and integrity of our businesses,” commented Dr. Rohan Fernando, Head of Business Development and Sustainability at Aitken Spence PLC.

Aitken Spence PLC was also one of the country’s first companies to sign the United Nations Global Compact, a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

Aitken Spence is the reigning winner of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability award for two successive years while being the only company in Sri Lanka to be ranked among the Top 10 Corporate Citizens for an unprecedented 13 consecutive years.

Listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983 and marking its 150th-year milestone in 2018, Aitken Spence is a blue-chip conglomerate with a strong regional presence in the Hotels, Travel, Maritime Services, Logistic Solutions, Plantations, Power Generation, Printing, Insurance and Apparel sectors.

‘Overall Winner’ – ACCA Sri Lanka Sustainability Reporting Awards 2018. Accepting the award, Ms. Nilanthi Sivapragasam, Chief Financial Officer of Aitken Spence PLC.

 

Aitken Spence Turyaa Chennai awarded ‘Best City Hotel’ at India Travel Awards 2019

6 Jun

Turyaa Chennai, part of the renowned Aitken Spence Hotels was recognised at the recently held India Travel Awards 2019-South as the ‘Best City Hotel’ further strengthening its position as an industry leader extending the best in service, product and offerings.

Having opened its doors in 2016, Turyaa Chennai was conceptualised to appeal to the changing lifestyles of the global traveller. With the digital revolution and globalization gradually changing the demands and preferences towards brand selection, the ‘Turyaa’ was developed to provide the guest with a brand that is more flexible, responsive, interactive and value driven.

The award, India Travel Awards 2019-South held for its fifth consecutive year is organised to recognise regional stalwarts and celebrate travel trade professionals for their contribution towards the industry. Award winners are acknowledged as the benchmark of the travel industry. The awards are supported by the Government of India and esteemed trade bodies including PATA, OTOAI, TAFI, ADTOI, IAAI, FHRAI etc.

Conveniently located just 20 minutes away from the International Airport and a drive away from the heart of the city, Turyaa Chennai is the ideal amalgamation of business and leisure. Dedicated towards offering guests a hassle free and all-encompassing staying experience, this five-star deluxe property fulfils every criterion of service excellence. The city hotel offers a superlative experience merging luxury with hospitality from the heart, an ethos that is carried forward as a Sri Lankan hospitality brand.

For those traveling to Chennai on business or leisure, the hotel offers special weekend deals online at www.turyaahotels.com/chennai/.

Aitken Spence Outperforms Industry Benchmarks with 13.8% Growth in PBT in 2018/19

27 May

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aitken Spence PLC came up with yet another sustained financial performance for the twelve months ending 31st March 2019 with a 13.8% year-on-year growth in profit-before-tax from Rs. 6.4 billion to Rs. 7.3 billion, its highest ever. The leading conglomerate recorded a steady growth in several key sectors. The conglomerate capitalised on its broad-based business portfolio spread across several countries and sectors by recording an increase in its annual revenue by 5.6% from Rs. 52.7 billion to Rs. 55.7 billion whilst recording the highest ever profit-after-tax of Rs. 5.8 billion. This was an increase of 12.1% from the previous year. The resilience of the Group is demonstrated by the continuous growth in EPS which reflects the strength of the Group to face turbulence in the domestic market and yet achieving sustained economic growth during this period, due to its overseas investments.

Currently, Aitken Spence being an exceptionally diversified Group has generated 44% of its profits from businesses overseas; thus, spreading its wings across countries specially in the tourism, maritime and logistics sectors. As a result, the total assets of the Group comprise of 33% accounted by assets overseas. This is an indication of the valuable relationships that have been built with global industry players in these key sectors.

The company also witnessed a growth in revenue from the overseas operations by 9.9% to Rs.17.6 billion supported by good performances from the tourism, and maritime & logistics operations, surpassing revenue growth in the domestic market. The revenue increase in the Maldives is noteworthy as growth in room supply exceeded increase in tourist arrivals, leading to stiff competition in this attractive market. Further higher domestic volumes in the cargo business resulted in increased growth in overseas maritime and logistics operations.

Total revenue of the Sri Lankan operations also grew by 3.7% to Rs.38.1 billion. This was created by significant improvement in tourism, maritime & logistics and services sectors despite a contraction in the strategic investments sector. As a result of the outstanding growth in the key sectors, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased by 20% to Rs.6.2 billion during the year.

The Sri Lankan hotels performed extremely well recording a profit before tax of 40.3% over the previous year, although there was an increase in room inventory in the country which created intensive competition. Moreover, the destination management business underlined their leadership position in the country by exceeding all expectations resulting in a profit before tax of over Rs. 1 billion. They also brought in over 200,000 tourists into Sri Lanka which is an exceptional achievement.

The maritime and logistics sector recorded a growth in profit of 20.9% to reach Rs. 2.1 billion. The performance of these two sectors improved due to an increase in imports, exports and transhipment volumes. In addition, the hub concept which is gaining greater appreciation and attention in Sri Lanka also contributed to improved performances in freight forwarding, courier and GSA.

The broad-based strategic investments sector delivered an exceptional profit growth of 40.2% to reach Rs.1.8 billion. This was boosted by focus on driving operational efficiencies through sustainability initiatives resulting in a turnaround in the Garments segment. The power generation segment is in the process of providing a lasting solution to the city of Colombo’s acute garbage disposal problem by constructing a state-of-the-art waste-to-energy plant. This is a pioneering venture being carried out in Sri Lanka which will be operational in the fourth quarter of 2019/20 adding 10 MWs to the national grid.

The services sector comprising the insurance business and OTIS elevators, both showed top line growth with the overall sector reaching a profit before tax of Rs. 268 million, an increase of 11.6% over the previous year. The insurance business grew as a result of increase in external trade whilst OTIS elevators saw an increase in revenue growth from projects that commenced in the prior year’s nearing completion. This is despite the downturn in the construction industry.

Overall, profit attributable to shareholders crossed the Rs. 4 billion mark for the first time to Rs. 4.1 billion, an increase of 14.5%, while earnings per share (EPS) also rose from Rs. 8.77 to Rs. 10.04.

“Despite economic headwinds in key source markets and in their respective locations of operations, we have remained resilient and it is evident in the strong financial performance clearly seen across geographies and sectors. Our continued commitment to overseas expansion is evidenced by the investment of Rs.12.6 billion in Heritance Aárah in the Maldives as it becomes the first overseas operation to carry our premium brand Heritance which has been associated only with our iconic properties in Sri Lanka. Our printing and packaging segment also made an investment in Fiji in a printing business during the financial year, giving us the opportunity to further expand our horizons in the South Pacific region,” stated Aitken Spence Deputy Chairman and Managing Director, Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake.

“Currently, our top priority is to restore confidence and normalcy. Every one of us in the organisation is committed to making a contribution to this end. Moving forward, we will continue to work together with industry bodies to support recovery at a national level, voicing our concerns and conveying those of our business partners and customers to drive change in the right direction. We also stay committed and focused on the longer term as well, investing wisely to ensure that we drive the growth momentum in the country,” he added further.

Aitken Spence PLC won the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2018 for the second successive year and has been ranked among the Top 10 Corporate Citizens for an unprecedented 13 consecutive years.

Listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983 and marking its 150th year milestone in September 2018, Aitken Spence is a blue-chip conglomerate with a strong regional presence in the Hotels, Travels, Maritime Services, Logistic Solutions, Plantations, Power Generation, Financial Outsourcing, Insurance, IT, Printing and Apparel sectors.

Aitken Spence Printing Certified with the World’s Leading Print Facility Validation

22 May

Market leader Aitken Spence Printing & Packaging (Pvt) Ltd. has again proved itself as a trendsetter in the industry by obtaining the G7® Master Facility Qualification-Colourspace, the highest level of the G7 compliance and the most stringent.

Regional Head of Idealliance for South Asia, K Panthala Selvan stated that “Aitken Spence Printing is the first ever in Sri Lanka to obtain the most globally used, recognised, and sought-after international validation in the printing industry. The G7 Master Qualification by Idealliance is a certification and specified standard for aligning printing technologies to achieve a consistent printing output. Utilising the G7 methodology improves output consistency across multiple print services, platforms, and distribution outlets, while tremendously reducing waste and increasing profitability”.

Being a pioneer in the printing industry for over six decades, the Company continuously sets innovative benchmarks. In addition to receiving countless endorsements, this recognition further validates its position as a ‘Best-in-Class Printer’ in Sri Lanka.

Managing Director of Aitken Spence Printing, Prasanna Karunathilake, stated that “Obtaining this internationally sought-after qualification in the printing industry is reflective of our commitment, every day, to deliver value-oriented, innovative, and sustainable printing and packaging solutions to our stakeholders. We will continue to set higher benchmarks to cater to leading global and local brands who seek to maintain the highest quality of their products”.

Prasanna Karunatilake further stated that “The countless endorsements received, and the rising demands of customers have paved the way for Aitken Spence Printing to reach new heights in matching and reproducing colours and in breaking the boundaries in the printing and packaging requirements. The wealth of experience, the proven skills and reliability coupled with unmatched level customer care has made Aitken Spence Printing a preferred printer for all forms of high-quality printing requirements, not just in Sri Lanka, but in South Asia and the region of the sub-continent of India”.

Aitken Spence Printing was the first LEED Gold certified printing facility in South Asia and was recognised for the fourth consecutive year as the industry’s best, by winning the Gold award in the Printing and Related Services category at the National Business Excellence Awards 2017.

Over the years, Aitken Spence Printing has evolved into a dynamic operation and is ranked among the top printers in the country specialising in both offset and digital printing technologies. Aitken Spence Printing has gained longstanding reliability as a printer of a broad range of products and services including coffee table books, packaging, publications, magazines, and seasonal products such as calendars and diaries. Catering to a wide range of industries such as tea, apparel, FMCG and pharmaceutical, Aitken Spence Printing operates in a fiercely competitive industry where it enjoys a leading market share in Sri Lanka.

Russian Tour Operators visit Sri Lanka with Aitken Spence Travels

14 May

A group of 12 tour operators from St. Petersburg, Russia is currently in Sri Lanka for a familiarization tour with Aitken Spence Travels.

The group leader Mr. Gorodenskiy Dmitry stated that he along with his other colleagues are very happy to be in Sri Lanka, which incidentally is their first visit although they have been promoting destination Sri Lanka.

“We are very happy about the security provided and felt everything is very normal. We love the Sri Lankan people and they are so friendly and helpful”, said Mr. Gorodenskiy.

He was confident that his Russian colleagues in the group will promote destination Sri Lanka and drive the much-needed tourists to the island.

The group visited Sigiriya and climbed the 660 ft tall rock capitol of King Kasyapa which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sigiriya is considered one of the best-preserved examples of ancient urban planning. The group would also make their way to the Dambulla cave temple, the Kandy Temple, experience a tea plantation, visit the gentle giants at the Pinnawela elephant orphanage and sum the tour by spending some time to enjoy the beach prior to departure.

Nayapane Estate Tea Factory of Elpitiya Plantations PLC Receives an All-time Record Price for the BOP Fanning Grade

2 May

The Nayapane estate tea factory managed by Aitken Spence Plantations Management PLC, has secured an all-time record for the BOP Fanning Grade in the Western Medium category with the highest price in the Sri Lanka tea auction. Securing this price is a testament to the Nayapane tea factory’s continuous commitment to maintain the highest quality of teas.

The tea factory situated in Pussellawa produces quality liquoring teas to high-end Japanese markets in compliance with international market standards. By ensuring that the manufacturing and processing of tea leaves are completed under stringent hygiene and safety conditions, the Nayapane estate tea factory produce is highly sought-after by buyers and is even considered a healthy beverage by customers.

Elpitiya Plantations PLC has heavily invested in state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies in the processing and manufacturing of its various produces. These efforts have enabled the company to manufacture the highest quality teas in a timely and efficient manner.

The Nayapane estate tea factory has been acclaimed both locally and internationally, and among the wins are the “Two-star” award at the Great Taste Awards UK 2018 for maintaining superior quality and taste in the British markets and the first place in the “150 Years Tea Board Awards”. The company is also an award winner at the ‘Sesquicentennial Tea Auction’ conducted by the Colombo Tea Traders’ Association where the Nayapane tea factory was adjudged the “Best Tea Factory” amongst other victories. Being awarded these prestigious accolades and recognitions, the BOP Fanning Grade serves to reinforce Elpitiya’s role as one of Sri Lanka’s leading producers of exquisite high-quality premium teas.

“Since our beginning over two decades ago, we have been steadily moving forward, and having our tea factory’s BOP Fanning Grade secure one of the highest prices, is a momentous milestone in our journey so far. Over the years we have undertaken continuous quality improvements and have optimised our operations, in order to run well-managed plantations. We hope to perpetuate these efforts toward ensuring an uncompromising standard of quality at all aspects of the business,” said Bhathiya Bulumulla, Chief Executive Officer of Elpitiya Plantations PLC.

In its commitment to meet stakeholder expectations through continuous improvements, sustainability is one of the core business strategies practised in the company, and it has been strategically embedded across all operational aspects at the Nayapane estate tea factory.

Commenting further, Kaushal Mathavan, Senior Manager of Elpitiya Plantations PLC said, “We have achieved an all-time record at Nayapane estate tea factory, and this was made possible through our continuous drive to ensure the long-term viability and profitability of Nayapane. We offset 20% of the company’s electrical energy requirements through a 93 kilowatts (kW) solar PV roofing system, and we are currently assessing Nayapane’s carbon footprint in order to become a carbon neutral plantation, which is an important element within our overall sustainability strategy at Elpitiya Plantations.”

In addition to this, Nayapane is a Rainforest Alliance Certified tea factory and a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, which are reputed organisations working to improve the sustainability of the tea industry and are highly esteemed by most European markets. In its commitment to quality, Nayapane has broken grounds yet again by becoming the first tea factory in Sri Lanka to receive the ISO 9001: 2008, the environmental management system standard back in 1998, which was later upgraded to the ISO 22000: 2005 (HACCP) Food Safety Management Systems standard.

Managed by Aitken Spence PLC since 1997, Elpitiya Plantations PLC is one of Sri Lanka’s leading producers of the most exquisite high-quality premium teas. Today, Elpitiya Plantations operates 13 estates located in the up, mid and low country regions spanning over 8,800 hectares. Its core business is focused on cultivation and manufacturing of tea, rubber, oil palm, coconut and cinnamon, while the Company has subsequently diversified its operations into sustainable forestry development, eco-tourism, hydropower development, and specialty-tea manufacturing over the years.

Aitken Spence Travels Welcomes its 200,000th Visitor Within a Year

1 Apr

The largest inbound tour operator in Sri Lanka, Aitken Spence Travels welcomed its 200,000th happy visitor a few days back for the FY 2018/19. The company has recorded a growth of tourist arrivals, essentially building on its past performance of 178,000 happy visitors during its previous FY of 17/18.

Aitken Spence Travels generated more than 400,000 room nights to the local hotels during the FY 18/19, making it the single largest contributor to Sri Lanka’s hotel industry. The company has trained and provided many direct and indirect employment opportunities to Sri Lankans in the tourism industry.

Just as the country’s top source markets generating visitors, Aitken Spence Travels top performing markets were in line with the country arrivals.  Of these markets, the company saw a significant increase in visitor arrivals from Australia due to the national carrier operating direct flights from this source market. It is noteworthy to state that when direct air connectivity is established, the impact is to the entire tourism industry.

The other segments such as cruise, special interest groups, sports tours, nature and luxury tours have contributed to the positive visitor numbers handled by the company. As the largest inbound tour operator in Sri Lanka Aitken Spence Travels allocates a high marketing budget to promote destination Sri Lanka, without being dependent on destination promotions. Also, the company forges ahead by taking risks when entering new markets and expanding its business to continuously cater to the varying demands of the traveller.

The company is a joint venture between Aitken Spence PLC, a leading blue-chip conglomerate and TUI, the largest integrated tourism company in the world, flourishing on the best practices of these two reputed & strong shareholders.

Aitken Spence Travels serves its customers with a high level of professionalism and dedication and together these efforts have culminated in the company also handling charter flights from the UK, Scandinavia and Poland.

The Company’s cruise unit has showcased their expertise by catering to the demanding shore excursion business in the country which is a growing segment within tourism. By handling large cruises, as well as exclusive up market cruises, Aitken Spence Travels has developed innovative ways to ensure that most of the cruise passengers explore the diversity of the country, the people and our culture while securing future business needs of the cruise shore excursion operations.

The MICE tourism business handled by the company caters to the delivery of diverse requirements. Conceptualising themed weddings specifically for the Indian market where the wedding segment is growing rapidly and also extending services for experiential tours has strengthened the companies market position.

Whilst the different source markets have been generating more numbers the company has invested in technology and other in-house systems to improve efficiencies and enabled the operational staff to have a seamless operation, driven by technology.

“Over the years Aitken Spence Travels has established strong partnerships with many leading tour operator partners. The trust they have placed in the Aitken Spence brand coupled with our ability to cater to the many diverse demands and needs of the discerning traveller has given us an edge over competition. It is a great achievement for us to continue to keep raising the bar year after year and we will continue to cater to the different segments with innovative solutions” commented Mr. Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels.

“This incredible journey would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of many stakeholders. We extend our gratitude and thanks to our Chairman & Board of Directors along with the Leisure Sector Head Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena, to our valuable tour operators, the hoteliers, airline operators and all other stakeholders for their trust, belief and support.

“An operation of this magnitude could not have been possible without the efficiency and dedication of our staff at Aitken Spence Travels and the senior management team. I am indeed grateful to my wonderful team for this achievement” stated Mr. Jayasundera.

“Furthermore, we continue to keep adding to the many laurels the company has been collecting over the years and the recent one being Aitken Spence Travels being selected as the best inbound tour company at the recently concluded Sri Lanka Tourism Awards conducted by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. In addition to handling 200,000 passengers we are also the only DMC to record a 1 billion profit in Sri Lanka”, he added.

Commenting on the future initiatives of the company Mr. Jayasundera added, “As a leader in the DMC business we will focus a significant proportion of our time and efforts to bring about a wave in sustainable tourism programs and ensure that as an industry leader that we will lead the way by various means such as educating our stakeholders and promoting sustainable tours. Our partners and stakeholders can expect to see the result of these commitments in the coming months”.