Aitken Spence Travels records landmark 178,000 Happy visitors to destination Sri Lanka

18 May

Aitken Spence Travels, the largest inbound tour operator in the country closed the 2017/18 financial year with a total inbound volume exceeding 178,000 happy visitors to Destination Sri Lanka. This year’s performance builds on the previous year’s record high of 153,000 tourists by far the largest number of visitor arrivals handled by any Destination Management Company in the country. The Aitken Spence Travels’ growth was recorded at 16% while during the same period the country arrivals grew by 7%.

Commenting on the feat the Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels Mr. Nalin Jayasundera stated, “This achievement was possible due to our continues efforts in diversifying to new markets and growing the existing markets by securing new business.  I am happy to note our increased visitor numbers resulted in the Company recording the highest ever profit thus far. This was due to the excellent team work of the staff who ensured that our clients are served with dedication and professionalism coupled with years of experience in the tourism industry”.

“The contribution of our Tour Operator partners has been significant to the Company’s achievements.  We place our sincere appreciation for the support extended by Hotel partners, airline’s and other suppliers for playing a significant role. The 41 year journey of Aitken Spence Travels is built on the ethos of trust and partnerships. We are privileged to have the best practices of TUI, the world’s largest integrated tourism company and the strength and backing of Aitken Spence group”, he added.

Aitken Spence Travels is active in many diverse segments of tourism. The Company’s Cruise shore excursions business commands market leadership in the country. The cruise business is a growing segment and Sri Lanka has potential to offer a multi-port offering to differentiate in order to secure future business.

The charter flight operations have been growing and the Company has continued to handle charters from U.K., Sweden, Finland and Russia. In 2017/18 together with TUI, Aitken Spence Travels handled a charter from Poland for the first time which operated flights every 10 days. Due to the successful charter operation TUI will be operating a second charter for winter 2018/19 from Poland.

The Company has also made inroads on sports tours handled and have brought many teams from different sporting disciplines. Cricket by far is the most popular but netball, rugby and hockey tours have grown, and the Company has made inroads with golf tourism.

As the only award-winning conference organiser, AST events unit managers international and local business and consumer events. The event portfolio covers medical, IT, education and consumer trade fairs. Flagship local events such as Colombo Shopping Festival, Home and You, the Best Brand Show has attracted over 175,000 local visitors per annum. The unit also specialises in handling events in Maldives.

 

In addition to giving back to the community in numerous ways, Aitken Spence Travels is among the few companies in Sri Lanka that offsets its carbon footprint across its operations. Visitors continue to place their trust and confidence in the Company as they too become part of the organisations greater responsibility towards minimising carbon footprint when partaking on tours and excursions designed to have minimum impact to the environment and nature. The Travel Life Certification was secured for the operations keeping in line with global sustainable tourism practices.

Since 2015 the Company has been handling over one hundred thousand inbound clients and have not looked back since then. The formula for continuous success has been the commitment of the management and dedication of the staff to achieve a common corporate objective. The Company carries out its own promotions in partnership with tour operators to create a better demand for the destination.

It is envisaged that the tourism industry and its stakeholders will stand to gain from the proposed digital promotion campaign. It is also important to have a sustained and an effective marketing campaign for the benefit of the tourism sector stakeholders and the overall economy of the country.

Looking further Aitken Spence Travels hopes to continue to strengthen and build its international market position. The Company will continue to shape the tourism industry, by pioneering in terms of innovation in products and exploring markets be it Sports, MICE, Cruises, Nature, Luxury, Online and Charter operations.

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Hyundai’s New Asia-Europe Express Service Offers Best Transit Times

3 May

Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) launched its new Asia-North Europe Express (AEX) service that included Port of Colombo, in April from Pusan. The AEX service which is independently run by HMM offers exporters the fastest transit times to Europe base ports that will benefit them in meeting the timelines of their buyers with time sensitive shipments.

The first vessel on the AEX service mv ‘Hyundai Forward’ made its maiden call at the Port of Colombo on the 22nd of April berthing at the Jaya Container Terminal (JCT).

AEX Service brings immense benefits to the importers sourcing shipments with direct sailings from the base ports of Korea, China and Taiwan, improving the supply chains and minimising delays. Shipping & Cargo Logistics, a subsidiary of Aitken Spence is the local agent for HMM in Sri Lanka.

This new service includes port rotation in Pusan, Shanghai, Ningbo, Kaohsiung, Yantian, Singapore, Colombo, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Southampton on the westbound voyage.

The Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, commented that “We express our gratitude to HMM for choosing Colombo as one of its port of call and promoting Colombo as the transshipment hub for the Indian Subcontinent region. We assure that the Jaya Container Terminal and the Port of Colombo would afford all facilities to enhance transshipment volumes being routed through the Port of Colombo”.

Mr. D H Oh, Managing Director of HMM HQ – India expressed his confidence in the Port of Colombo and stated that HMM was laying greater emphasis on the Indian Subcontinent region with the opening of the Regional HQ in Mumbai and he expected more services to call at Colombo. He also mentioned the expansion plans of HMM where an order for 12 x 20000 TEU and 8 x 14000 TEUS vessels had been placed and by 2020. The 20000 TEU vessels will be deployed on the AEX service which will call at Colombo. He was excited at the development plans of the Port of Colombo and was looking forward for HMM to be a big player in Colombo in the very near future.

An exchange of plaques between the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake and Mr. D H Oh, Managing Director of HMM Regional HQ India to commemorate the maiden call of the AEX independent service at JCT was held on 23rd April. Also present at the ceremony were Mr. Jayantha Perera, Director Operation-SLPA, Mr. Upul Jayatissa, Chief Manager Marketing and Business Development-SLPA, Mr. Y D Park and Mr. Jitin Joshi from HMM Regional HQ India. The local agents of HMM in Sri Lanka was represented by Mr. Bevin Mack, General Manager of Shipping and Cargo Logistics (Pvt) Ltd along with Mr. Iqram Cuttilan, Chief Executive Officer of Aitken Spence Maritime sector.

Aitken Spence’s Turyaa Chennai, the best five-star deluxe in Tamil Nadu

25 Apr

Turyaa Chennai, owned and operated by the local hospitality chain Aitken Spence Hotels was conferred the ‘best five-star deluxe hotel’ in Tamil Nadu at the recently held Tamil Nadu Tourism Awards 2018.

The award ceremony, held with support from India Tourism, Government of India aims at identifying industry leaders who have actively promoted to maintain Tamil Nadu’s position as a premier tourism destination in India. In its third edition, this award is a testament to the quality and standards upheld by Turyaa Chennai who obtained the ‘five-star deluxe’ classification early last year. With this classification, Turyaa Chennai became one of five hotels in Chennai to have obtained this highly sought-after accreditation.

“We are pleased to have received this award, just a year after obtaining the five-star classification. The award is a reflection of the hard work and service excellence that is upheld by the team. Being the first Sri Lankan company to own and operate a five-star deluxe property in India, we are committed to spreading our unique message of hospitality through world-class offerings and service from the heart,” Aitken Spence Hotels Joint Managing Director Susith Jayawickrama said.

“Our hotel is ideal for local businessmen travelling to Chennai, or for local companies looking at MICE necessities in India,” he added, “With special business traveller packages, long stay packages and early bird offers, Turyaa Chennai is well positioned to lead the MICE industry in India.”

The 140-room property situated in the IT corridor of Chennai, just minutes away from the bustling city centre is perhaps the perfect amalgamation of business and leisure. Situated 20 minutes away from the international airport, the hotel is the ideal location for the business travellers, the ardent shopper or cultural holiday seeker.

Heritance Ayurveda receives ‘Best Partner’ certification from German operator at ITB

27 Mar

Aitken Spence Hotels’ wellness resort, Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara was commended for its product and service excellence by German health and wellness operator Neue Wege as the ‘Best Partner Ayurveda Resort 2018’ at the world’s leading travel trade show Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin, better known as ITB 2018.

With Germany listed as a key market for Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara, the recognition, awarded for the fifth consecutive year further promotes it as a forerunner in the niche wellness tourism front of Sri Lanka. The resort, offering a range of curated ayurvedic experiences conducted by qualified specialists is well-known in the international market for the superior services provided.

Set against the dazzling blues of Beruwala, the 64-roomed hotel is uniquely designed to offer holistic wellness treatments for guests. With the focus on mental, spiritual and physical balance, the resort offers specialised treatments inspired by traditional healing practices, organic food to detox and rejuvenate, alongside exceptional service.

Neue Wege is a German organisation that promotes health and mindfulness based travel. With over 400 travel offers in 20 countries around Europe and Asia, Neue Wege is among the first German tour operators to receive EU-sponsored CSR seal of approval for sustainable travel and has been certified since 2009.

Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara Recognized by Fit Reisen for Quality

23 Mar

Aitken Spence Hotels’ wellness resort Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara was recently commended for their excellence in quality and standards by Fit Reisen Germany leading provider of health and wellness travel, with the Quality Certificate in the category of ‘ayurveda and yoga’. This is the fourth consecutive year the resort has received this recognition.

The certification which highlights the property as one of the highest quality and best rated hotels further confirms Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara’s position as the ultimate in spiritual, physical and mental harmony through customised healing rituals following the ancient traditions of Ayurveda.

The certification is awarded after a careful assessment process where Fit Reisen’s experts only accept and select partner hotels with strong service and quality orientation and a clear focus on spa and health. Customer reviews also play a vital role in this process.

The evaluation takes note of the state and cleanliness of the hotel, service staff, hotel room and atmosphere; taste, variety and balance of food and; health factors such as quality of treatment, pool, spa, treatment rooms, leisure activities and nature and surroundings.

An ayurvedic treatment destination, the 64-roomed property is located in Beruwala and caters to the niche segment of wellness-seekers. Uplifting treatments by professional ayurvedic specialists, extraordinary cuisine and outstanding hospitality is what guests checking-in at Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara receive. Formally known as The Neptune Hotel Beruwala, the property underwent a complete refurbishment and commenced a journey as a wellness resort in late 2011. The resort also acts as a responsible tourism institution, uplifting indigenous arts & crafts of Sri Lanka and takes to the world a message on authentic healing through organic produce and holistic well-being.

With partners in over 50 countries, Fit Reisen has for over 40 years offered guests from around the world high quality travel, focused on health and well-being holidays.

Aitken Spence Rated Platinum Consecutively for Corporate Accountability

21 Mar

Aitken Spence PLC was rated Platinum for its corporate accountability practices and performance in the STING Corporate Accountability Index 2018 for the 6th consecutive year. The leading conglomerate has been ranked among the top three companies in the index since 2011.

Published by LMD bi-annually, the index rated the top 50 companies from the LMD 100 (excluding investment companies) as well as key state-owned enterprises on a holistic and integrated model covering corporate responsibility, sustainability and governance. STING Corporate Accountability Index, which is currently published every other year in the LMD magazine is the country’s most comprehensive ranking of corporate entities on their commitment to corporate accountability.

The integrated sustainability policy and its implementation framework that drives the sustainability strategy of the group has been categorized as the best in policy coverage in the index on many occasions.

The index assesses the companies in six areas of corporate values; stakeholder engagement; impacts, risks and opportunities; policy coverage; management and governance; and measurement and disclosure. Each of these areas consist a range of criteria that should be in place to operate through a truly responsible framework. There are 5 categories to the ranking namely, Platinum: 75-100, Gold: 60-74.9, Silver: 50-59.9, Bronze: 40-49.9 and Unclassified: 39.9 and below. The rating reflects the extent to which the largest companies operating in Sri Lanka have embedded accountability and responsibility in their daily operations in becoming sustainable business entities.

Accountability is strongly attested by Aitken Spence that also won the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2017 conducted by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The company has been ranked among the Top 10 Corporate Citizens for an unprecedented 12 consecutive years.

“We look at sustainability as a part of our business strategy to be more reliable to our stakeholders and more competitive in the marketplace. Our diverse sectors pose a myriad of opportunities to grasp and risks to manage. The Aitken Spence corporate sustainability framework provides a framework for our various sectors to align their business strategies to achieve resilient growth”, said Dr. Rohan Fernando, Director and Head of Business Development and Plantations of Aitken Spence PLC.

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 Aviation Wins Award for Airport Operations – Individual Winner

13 Mar

Aitken Spence Aviation employee, Mr. Vasantha Kudaliyanage (Customer Service Manager, Singapore Airlines) won the award for Airport Operations – Individual Winner, at the Singapore Airlines annual awards 2017 held recently. The award was presented to Vasantha by Regional Vice President Mr. Joey Seow in Perth, Australia.

The individual winners were selected after a process based on commendable work and a compilation of all compliments received from passengers for the exemplary work done by individuals and teams across the West Asia and Africa (WAA) stations. Sub-continent countries include – India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives. Other individuals and teams that joined Mr. Kudaliyanage in winning the award were from India, South Africa and Dubai.

Mr. Kudaliyanage excelled in service by demonstrating key attributes such as taking initiative and ownership and offering great customer service that has made him a service champion and a role model figure while been an inspiration to his team. Other instances he assisted many passengers some of which included a UN peacekeeping mission to Timor-Leste for a group of 34 Sri Lankan police officers. Mr. Kudaliyanage went above and beyond a restricted time period to deliver excellent service in liaising with Singapore SATS Police, SilkAir, SQ SSE, the Sri Lankan High Commission and the local Sri Lankan Police Force. Furthermore, he assisted several passengers such as overcoming flight delays and efficiently dealt with lost personal belongings. Mr. Kudaliyanage has been a key figure in providing excellent customer service at Singapore Airlines and he is well known for going above and beyond in assisting numerous business and individual passengers. In light of such outstanding service, he has consecutively been awarded the following;

2017 – RVP West Asia & Africa – Airport operations Individual winner
2014 – RVP West Asia & Africa – Airport operations Individual winner
– Merit
2010 – CEO TCS Awards 2010 – Highest award in the network
2009 – RVP West Asia & Africa – Airport operations Individual winner

Aitken Spence, which is the longest standing GSA of Singapore Airlines worldwide, commended Vasantha Kudaliyange on his continuous achievement that instil values such as quality and reliability that are hallmarks of the Aitken Spence service.

Aitken Spence Logistics Pursues Continuous Fleet Enhancement with World Class Equipment

6 Mar

Aitken Spence Logistics, further exemplified its commitment towards continuous improvement with enhancements to its fleet of equipment. The new addition of equipment falls in line with the belief of delivering service par excellence for the company’s longstanding clientele.

Amongst notable additions to the fleet are six new forklifts, twelve new prime movers and an empty container handler to advance its operations in the fields of Container Freight Station (CFS), Transportation and Inland Container Terminal (ICT). In keeping with the belief of maintaining uncompromising standards of quality, the purchases were made from Toyota, TATA and KONECRANES.

KONECRANES is a globally renowned brand in the lifting equipment industry, lending its high quality products to a broad range of customers engaged in a multitude of industries across the world. The selection of equipment vendors is carried out by Aitken Spence Logistics with reliable quality and service in mind and has been a success factor for the company in the years of its operation.

“We believe it is essential that we maintain the highest levels of quality and reliability in all our operations. This has always been something that we emphasise and take pride in. With the expansion of our client base, we have maintained a consistent level of quality that made us successful from the inception of our business and this is our greatest achievement. We have remained closely aligned with the best in our industry and our investments reflect this belief that the best in the industry must partner the best,” commented Mr. Janaka Gunawardena, Chief Operating Officer – Aitken Spence Logistics.

The new additions to the fleet are part of the continuous expansion and upgrading of capacity that Aitken Spence Logistics have led in the recent past and the company aims to achieve improvements in service quality and efficiency through consistent enhancements to the fleet. As such, the company will also add on to its fleet a brand new 10 Ton Boom Truck in the near future aiming to strengthen its project cargo logistics capabilities.

Aitken Spence Printing Retains Top Spot in the Industry for the 4th Consecutive Year

22 Jan

 

Sri Lanka’s leading printer, Aitken Spence Printing was recognized for the fourth consecutive year as the industry’s best, by winning the Gold award in the Printing & Related Services category at the National Business Excellence Awards 2017.

The recognition is proof of its position as the ‘best-in-class Printer’ in Sri Lanka, which has pioneered many innovative benchmarks and enriched the industry with sought after professionals over five decades.

“Winning the gold award consecutively in the printing & related sector is reflective of our commitment, every day, to deliver value-oriented, innovative, and sustainable printing and packaging solutions to our stakeholders. We take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to all our customers and other stakeholders for their precious and continuous contribution, guidance and support to achieve this recognition”, said Mr. Prasanna Karunathilake, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Printing.

Aitken Spence Printing is the market leader and the preferred print solutions provider for discerning local and global clients. Its wealth of experience spans over five decades of proven skill and reliability coupled with unmatched customer care.

The National Business Excellence Awards is an annual award competition conducted by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) with a structured evaluation model of seven perspectives – excellence in leadership, excellence in corporate governance, excellence in capacity building, excellence in performance management, excellence in local and global market reach, excellence in corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability and excellence in business and financial results.

Last year, Aitken Spence Printing received the prestigious GSK 2016 Environmental Sustainability Award alongside the US-based DOW Chemical Company. The awards recognized the vendors who excel in sustainability from an international pool of suppliers who work with GSK. Aitken Spence Printing is the only carbon neutral printer operating in a LEED-Gold certified facility, in South Asia.

 

Stanford MBA Students Visit Aitken Spence on Study Visit to Sri Lanka

13 Jan

Thirty MBA students and several professors from Stanford University visited Aitken Spence PLC as a part an intensive study tour to Sri Lanka, recently.

The students’ visit was aimed at gaining a deep understanding of how Sri Lanka was healing from the deep wounds of decades-long armed conflict and how the country is embarking on an ambitious social and economic development programme. During an intense one-week programme ended on the 5th of January, the visiting group held meetings with leaders of the private and government sector, non-governmental organisations and social organisations.

The visit of the Stanford MBA students and faculty was made possible by the 2017 Distinguished Careers Institute Fellow at Stanford University Tushara Canekeratne, Founder & CEO, Nadastra, Inc.and Co-Founder of Virtusa Corporation.

The MBA students from Stanford University engaged in discussions with Aitken Spence directors, J M S Brito (Deputy Chairman & Managing Director/CEO), Stasshani Jaywardena (Head of Leisure) and Dr. Rohan M Fernando (Head of Business Development & Plantations) on a range of topics that included external business challenges, strategy, government relations and sustainable business.

Stanford School of Business is one of the top business schools in the world. The Stanford MBA program, with a 6% admission rate, enrols the most selective class among business schools. Faculty includes Nobel laureates and pioneering thinkers in areas from economics to organizational behaviour and operations. The school convenes a full panoply of CEO speakers, forums, and global leaders.