Aitken Spence Travels to handle Inaugural Charter Flight of Thomson Airways from the UK

10 Nov

Water Garland Welcome

Aitken Spence Travels will handle the inaugural charter of Thomson Airways scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka on the 08th of November 2016 at 01.30 pm, carrying TUI clients from Thomsons and First Choice from London Gatwick.

The Dreamliner B787, the 300-seat aircraft will operate every Tuesday on a weekly basis during the period of November 2016 to April 2017. Aitken Spence Travels intends to serve over 7,000 visitors to Sri Lanka through this charter operation as the official ground handler pertaining to logistics, transport, accommodation and tours of all travellers arriving on board.

The company is confident that the revived charter business from the UK will benefit stakeholders of the Tourism industry in Sri Lanka. The last charter from the UK market was in 2010 since then it has taken much effort and dedication to convince the charter operators to resume their flights back to Sri Lanka considering the aggressive competition posed by competing destinations.

“The peaceful environment, competitive pricing, the extended product portfolio with a variety of choices has had an impact in persuading the charter operators to resume flights back to Sri Lanka. However, we have been persistent and not losing hope has paved the way in reality with this charter. This year we have succeeded in getting the attention of many new market segments and we are keen to continue this way. Sri Lanka has a lot to offer and it’s our responsibility to promote it effectively,” commented Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels.

As a result of the charter operations, arrivals from the UK as well as Ireland will see an increase in travellers and clients would have the convenience of booking a direct flight to Sri Lanka enabling a hassle free journey.

 

 

Aitken Spence Second Quarter Profits Up by 50%

8 Nov

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Aitken Spence PLC posted Rs. 540 mn as profits attributable to equity holders of the company in the second quarter, an increase of 50% year-on-year. Pre-tax profits rose by 26% to Rs. 973 mn while revenue rose by 70% to Rs. 9.8 bn, in the second quarter from last year. Earnings per share for the quarter was Rs. 1.33, an increase of 50% over the corresponding period.

Increase in revenue during the quarter from the tourism sector was mainly driven by new additions, Al Falaj hotel (Oman), Turyaa Chennai (India) and the new wing of Turyaa Kalutara. Resumption of operations at the Company’s thermal power plant contributed to the increase in revenue from the Strategic Investments sector, while the new segments in the freight and port management activities contributed to the increase in the Maritime & Logistics sector revenue.

Aitken Spence PLC is among Sri Lanka’s most dynamic and respected corporate entities with operations in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the South Pacific. Listed in the CSE since 1983, it has major interests in hotels, travel, maritime services, logistic solutions and power generation. The group also has a significant presence in plantations, printing, garments, financial services, insurance and information technology.

The diversified Group’s six months results reflected profits attributable to equity holders of the company at Rs. 789 mn and pre-tax profits at 1.45 bn. Six-month revenue increased by 50 % to Rs. 17.38 bn, while earnings per share for the same period stood at Rs. 1.94.

Operations of the Group’s thermal power plant recommenced in April this year following a lapse of one year, now contributing to a more stable national power generation effort. The Group has made substantial investments over the years to establish a portfolio of thermal, wind, hydro and especially renewable energy production, and expects growth in this area of engagement both in the local and foreign markets. The interest in renewable energy has been worked into the Group’s sustainability initiatives and continues to be a key priority in the envisioned future of the Group involvement in the power sector.

The tourism sector whose lion share is represented by the Group’s chain of resorts spread across four countries faced a challenging quarter. The interest and start-up costs of new hotel projects in Sri Lanka and overseas affected the bottom line of the sector. Closure of a multitude of rooms in a few resorts in the Maldives for refurbishment coupled with lower demand from key source markets negatively affected the returns from the Maldives leisure segment. However, the Company is confident that the Maldives tourism sector would pick up in the short to medium term.

Group’s latest additions to Sri Lanka’s leisure portfolio, Heritance Negombo and RIU Ahungalla were fully operational during the quarter under review. The 500-room RIU hotel in Ahungalla contributed towards the resumption of scheduled charter flights to Sri Lanka from several countries during the winter season of 2016, which will contribute to better results for the rest of the year.

The Maritime & Logistics sector recorded an impressive performance in the quarter with significant increases in the top and bottom lines, strengthened by its maritime services and port management divisions.

An approximate 28 % increase in the income tax charge for the Group from Rs. 207 mn to Rs. 264 million was recorded for the quarter ending 30th September 2016.

TUI CEO Visits Heritance Negombo

4 Mar

DHS Jayawardena with Fritz Joussen at Heritance Negombo

TUI Group CEO Fritz Joussen accompanied by other TUI top-level executives visited Heritance Negombo on Thursday. The 139-room hotel is the latest hotel investment by Aitken Spence in Sri Lanka, which is to open in April 2016.

The high profile team from TUI, the world’s largest integrated tourism group, included the CEO of TUI Germany, Managing Director of Product and Purchasing, CEO of TUI Nordic and Managing Director of TUI UK and Ireland . The TUI executives were welcomed by Aitken Spence Chairman Deshamanya D H S Jayawardena, Deputy Chairman J M S Brito and Head of Leisure/Director Stasshani Jayawardena.

The historic visit is organized by TUI’s joint venture partner in Sri Lanka Aitken Spence Travels.

Visiting Heritance Negombo

 

TUI – World’s Largest Tourism Group to Boost Destination Sri Lanka

3 Mar
TUI_CEO_Fritz Joussen

Fritz Joussen, Group CEO – TUI Group

A high profile delegation of TUI, the world’s number one integrated tourism Group, headed by the Group CEO Fritz Joussen will be visiting Sri Lanka today (Thursday). Organized by its joint venture partner Aitken Spence Travels, this would be the first time that Fritz Joussen will be visiting Sri Lanka. Joussen will be accompanied by other TUI top-level executives including: the CEO of TUI Germany, Managing Director of Product and Purchasing, CEO of TUI Nordic and Managing Director of TUI UK and Ireland on this visit. This visit highlights the focus on destination Sri Lanka and is a major endorsement from the global tourism giant.

TUI provides services along the entire tourism value chain for its 30 million plus customers from 31 source markets travelling to 180 destinations. It employs over 77,000 people in 130 countries. The group owns over 300 hotels & resorts with 210,000 beds, operating 136 aircrafts and 12 cruise ships. The company boasts revenues of €20.1 Billion in turnover and an operating result of €1.069 Billion. The TUI Group’s share is listed on the London Stock Exchange in the FTSE index and in the regulated market of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

The TUI group is an equal share partner of Aitken Spence Travels, the largest travel company in Sri Lanka. TUI enjoys a relationship of thirty five years with Aitken Spence, promoting Sri Lanka as a destination across a wide variety of source markets, especially in Europe. The partnership will be further strengthened with the commencement of planned charters from UK and Scandinavia, planned to start in the near future, along with the expected increase in arrivals from Germany and the Benelux region. The Lankan tourism industry will benefit greatly from these initiatives, adding traction to the tourism master plan of the country.

The TUI team is scheduled to meet the Prime Minister Hon. Ranil Wickramasinghe, the Minister of Tourism Hon. John Amarathunga and with other key tourism industry officials during their one-day stay.

The delegation will also make visit to 501-room RIU Ahungalla – a joint venture with Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings, which is currently under development. In addition, the TUI team will also visit other hotels that would be featured in its brochures. RIU Ahungalla once completed will be Sri Lanka’s largest beach hotel with 501 rooms. The hotel will offer a new segment of “all inclusive,” a first of its kind to Sri Lankan consumers and will extend its wings to its brand loyal customers travelling the globe. The TUI Charter operation will definitely generate more opportunities for other hotels to generate more business due to the increase in arrivals.

“TUI has continued to express interest in Sri Lanka as an important destination in the region. This historic visit is a result of a longstanding commitment and the growing openness in Sri Lanka. The overall increase of business from TUI will create opportunities for the growth of inbound numbers and the potential development of Sri Lanka’s tourism product that this visit may facilitate”, said Nalin Jayasundara, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Travels and a respected industry veteran.

As the country’s biggest tour operator, Aitken Spence Travels handles an annual volume of over 125,000 inbound tourists, and continuously strives to contribute to the growth of inbound volumes to the country.

Hapag-Lloyd Lanka Walks Away with Best Customer Service Award at 22nd ICS Awards

27 Feb
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Mr. Russell Diaz, Assistant General Manager – Hapag Lloyd Lanka receiving the award

Hapag-Lloyd Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, a subsidiary of Aitken Spence PLC and the local representation of German operator Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten was awarded the “Best Customer Service” laurel for the Europe sector at the recently concluded awards ceremony organized by the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers – UK (Sri Lanka branch). The win comes following a similar achievement at the previous year’s ceremony, where Hapag-Lloyd Lanka won the award for the US sector.

The ceremony which was held in Colombo on the 19th of February marked the 22nd installment of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS) awards. The ICS founded in London back in 1911, received the Royal Charter in 1921 and is a body fundamentally dedicated towards the promotion of professionalism in the international maritime industry through shipping education and training.

Fourteen shipping lines vied for the awards and Hapag-Lloyd Lanka walked away with one of the most lucrative awards. On behalf of Hapag-Lloyd Lanka, Russell Diaz, Assistant General Manager – Hapag-Lloyd Lanka received the award from Chief Guest – Hon. Karu Jayasuria, Speaker of Parliament. The ceremony was graced by many dignitaries including Hon. Arjuna Ranatunga, Minister of Ports and Shipping alongside Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, Minister of Public Enterprises and Development.

Aitken Spence Records Rs. 1.1bn as PBT in Third Quarter

13 Feb

Aitkenspence head office

Leading conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC posted its interim results to the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) released on Friday. The blue-chip’s financial results for the quarter ended 31st December 2015 saw profit-before-tax decrease by 25.3 per cent to Rs. 1.1 bn while profit attributable to equity holders decreased by 26.7 per cent to Rs. 637 mn. Revenue for the quarter fell by 14.6 per cent to Rs. 6.7 bn.

The diversified group’s nine-month results showed profit-before-tax decreasing by 28.3 per cent to Rs. 2.6bn and profit attributable to shareholders falling by 35.4 per cent to Rs. 1.4 bn, while revenue dropped by 28.2 per cent to Rs. 18.6 bn.

The revenue loss from the cessation of the power purchase agreement of Ace Power Embilipitiya in April 2015 had a significant effect on the results. Other Operating Income for the 9 months to 31st December 2014 included insurance income of Rs 351m for the fire damage at a resort in Maldvies during 2013/14.

“Diminished returns from the Maldives due to external factors and consolidation of hotel investments in Sri Lanka, negatively affected the returns from the tourism sector”, said J M S Brito, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

The Group’s Hotels arm recently completed a 100-room extension to its beach property in Kalutara, which is now a 200-room upgraded resort. In addition, the company is currently overseeing two large hotel projects in Negombo and Ahungalla.

Aitken Spence operates a wide portfolio of hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka, Maldives, India and Oman. Its travel arm, the largest in Sri Lanka, is a joint venture with TUI Travel. It also acts as GSA for major airlines in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

“We are pleased to report increase in profits from companies in the port management, ship agency and airline sub sectors contributed towards the profits of the Maritime & Logistics Sector.” Mr. Brito added.

Aitken Spence is Sri Lanka’s largest integrated logistics services provider and has port management services in Africa and the South Pacific.

Depreciation of the Rupee has adversely affected company due to foreign currency loans obtained for overseas investments.

The company was also significantly affected by the substantial Super Gain Tax paid during the quarter ended 31st December 2015, as per the provisions of part III of the Finance Act No. 10 of 2015.

Subsequent to the balance sheet date, Aitken Spence PLC after obtaining all relevant approvals purchased a 20% shareholding in Fiji Ports Corporation Limited. The company which was previously wholly owned by the Government of the Republic of Fiji owns and manages all ports in Fiji.

Aitken Spence Hotels International (Pvt) Ltd., a subsidiary company, entered into an agreement to acquire Al Falaj Hotel in Oman from Oman Hotel and Tourism Co., subject to obtaining all relevant approvals. Al Falaj Hotel has been under management of Aitken Spence since 2008.

Aitken Spence Facilitates Cruise Ship Call on All Four Ports in Sri Lanka

30 Jan

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For the first time in Sri Lanka a cruise ship has made calls on the four main ports of Sri Lanka. The Luxury Cruise Ship Ms Europa 2 owned by German Operator Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten called on the 29th, 30th and 31st January 2016 to the Ports of Galle, Colombo, Hambantota respectively and have arrived at the Port of Trincomalee on the 1st of February 2016.

Hapag-Lloyd Lanka which is a subsidiary of Aitken Spence PLC is the local agent for Hapag-Lloyd, a top five global container operator. During her stay in Colombo on the 30th January 2016 at the request of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, the local agent Hapag-Lloyd Lanka carried out a full passenger turnaround in Colombo on 30th January 2016 which included, embarking and disembarking a total of 740 passengers.

Ms Europa 2 is a newly designed luxury cruise ship, which is considered as one of the most spacious cruise ships on the market. Every year the Ms Europa 2 sets sail on its journey around the World to visit Ports that are unreachable by other ships due to its size.

Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten has decided to have more frequent callers to Colombo, Galle, Trincomalee and Hambantota and are scheduled to call all four Ports in Sri Lanka in 2017/18. A full passenger turnaround is once again scheduled to take place in 2017 and as well as in 2018.

On April 7th 2015 Ms Europa, the sister ship of Ms Europa 2, called the Ports of Trincomalee, Galle and Colombo.

Aitken Spence Partners SriLankan Airlines to Promote Sri Lanka across India

18 Jan
Mr. Suranga Ratnayake General Manager Aitken Spence Travels & Mr. Chinthaka Weerasinghe, Manager Noth India flanked by so

Mr. Suranga Ratnayake General Manager Aitken Spence Travels & Mr. Chinthaka Weerasinghe, Manager North India flanked by some of the Top Travel agents during the presentation

Aitken Spence Travels, Turyaa Kalutara and SriLankan Holidays have joined hands to launch a promotional campaign across several cities in India to attract more tourists to Sri Lanka. The campaign will consist of cinema and TV advertising, as well as presentations to key agents covering all the main cities.

Aitken Spence Travels is the largest tour operator bringing in over 120,000 tourists to Sri Lanka. SriLankan Airlines flies to 7 destinations in India. The 200-room Turyaa Kalutara is the latest property opened by Sri Lanka’s largest resort operator, Aitken Spence Hotels.

The campaign will break and coincide with the Thai Pongal festival on TV and on 50 Cinema locations in major cities and states such as Mumbai, Karnataka, Bangalore, Tamil Nadu, Chennai, West Bengal, Kolkata, Delhi, Kerala and Cochin.

Aitken Spence Travels has developed two exclusive travel packages, namely ‘The Best of Sri Lanka’ and ‘Waves of Fun’ for this promotion, which is combined with air fare by SriLankan Airlines.

‘The Best of Sri Lanka’- a 5 days/4 nights package- would give the Indian traveller the experience of savouring some of the most beautiful locations in the island that includes sites of the “Ramayana trails”. The traveler will also stay in some of the finest hotels in Sri Lanka during the tour, such as Heritance Tea Factory, the Earl’s Regency and Turyaa Kalutara.

‘Waves of Fun’ package is a 4days/3 nights exclusive package at the beach at Turyaa Kalutara, allowing the traveller to enjoy time out for themselves with many excursions they could pick and choose.

Sri Lankan Airlines has launched the special Sri Lanka travel packages to the top Indian Tour operators in three of the most important source cities in India through exclusive events. Accordingly, launch events took place in Delhi on the 8th of January, in Mumbai on the 13th of January and in Chennai on the 18th of January.

“Last year compared to the overall growth in tourist arrivals of 18%, Indian tourist arrivals experienced a growth of 30% and remains the number one country for tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka with a figure of over 320,000 arrivals. In order to show our further commitment to the Sri Lanka Tourism product, SriLankan Airlines will continue to promote Sri Lanka with tailor made packages to the Indian market throughout the year”, said SriLankan Airlines’ Manager for North India, Chinthaka Weerasinghe.

“As Sri Lanka’s leading destination management company, we have relentlessly pursued unchartered markets globally, bringing in valuable diversity to the country’s tourist portfolio. Sri Lanka as a destination has to have a strategic focus on India for many obvious reasons, such as proximity, connectivity and size. There is tremendous potential in developing the Indian market for Sri Lanka. We see SriLankan Airlines as a critical partner in this process who have continued to support the industry in promoting destination Sri Lanka”, said Aitken Spence Travels Managing Director, Nalin Jayasundera.

Part of the gathering of Top tour operators in India who were part of the presentation

Aitken Spence Printing Brings Sri Lanka’s First Carbon Neutral Six Colour Offset Press

7 Jan

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Heidelberg XL 75 machine in operation at Aitken Spence Priting premises

Industry pioneer Aitken Spence Printing recently installed the Heidelberg XL 75, the first CO2 free printing press in Sri Lanka, strengthening its position as the leading sustainable printing and packaging services provider in the region.

The high energy efficiency and the careful use of resources makes German-made Heidelberg XL 75 the most eco-friendly machine in its class. The CO2 footprint of the printing press is calculated according to cradle to gate and additionally the transport to the customer. It is based on a detailed analysis of energy consumption and transport needs, as well as on the percentage of the various materials with their specific CO2 footprint. In this case, not only the CO2 emissions caused during the production at Heidelberg is taken into consideration, but also those of the suppliers.

“We are committed to give our customers the printing and packaging solutions that will allow them to exceed stakeholder expectations in reliability, quality and sustainability. This machine increases our capacity and improves our level of agility in terms of handling low volume, high variety customer orders”, said Prasanna Karunathilake, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Printing.

The company which counts six decades in the industry, brought international recognition to Sri Lanka by being the first in the region to operate from a LEED Gold Certified facility with its processes certified as carbon neutral. Aitken Spence was selected as one of the best five sustainable vendors at the Fonterra 2014 Global Vendor Awards in New Zealand.

In procurement, the company sources environmentally friendly, heavy metal free and Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified materials, while materials are disposed by recycling and reusing. Mr. Karunathilake added: “Our focus is on sustainability. Our sustainability initiatives embodied holistic approach of printing, which encompasses innovation, people, facility, products, processes, technology, logistics and marketing. We believe that sustainability is not a simple list of discrete actions, but a continual improvement process, a culture and a way of pulling together the entire supply chain towards Green. We will be moving towards the ambitious goal of developing an integrated green supply chain, in line with the global movement for sustainable value chains”.

Spanish Global Family Business Expert Impressed by Sri Lanka

5 Jan

Zugaza family in the cultural triangle

Mr. Jose Manuel Zugaza and family in Polonnaruwa

One of the most globally well-known family business consultants, Jose Manuel Zugaza celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife and three children in Sri Lanka recently. Mr. Zugaza, a former Executive President of Banco de Madrid of Spain and now the Managing Partner of UNILCO, a leading consultancy for family companies. The Zugaza family experienced the Cultural Triangle in a tour organized by Aitken Spence Travels through their partner, a high-end tour operator in Spain. Aitken Spence Travels is the largest inbound tourist operator in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Zugaza and his wife Carlota Escribano, who is a Director of Institutional Relations at the Development Bank of Latin America described their visits to the UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the Dambulla Cave Temple as “epic”. They also took part in a biking tour through the ruins of Polonnaruwa, another UNESCO World Heritage site.

“We will never forget encountering a herd of elephants on the main road, from Polonnaruwa on our way to a Safari tour in Minneriya”, said Ms. Escribano.

Jose Manual Zugaza is also the President of the Asociación Española de Consejeros de Empresas Familiares, Member of Family Business Network (F.B.N.) of Lausanne (Suiza), Member of Family Firm Institute (F.F.I.) of the USA and external adviser for Executive Family Boards in Europe and Latin América, among others. He is an expert on generational transition processes, and a specialist mediator in conflict resolution family business. He is the Author of several publications on strategies for family business and he wrote the book “Las Equivocaciones Que Nos Hicieron Triunfar” (“The mistakes which made us succeed”).

Aitken Spence Travels is fully diversified in to every aspect of tourism related activities namely; Leisure, Eco, Adventure, MICE and Cruise. It is considered as the leader in destination management in Sri Lanka with its creative and innovative tours and services. Partnered with the world’s largest tourism integrated company, TUI group, with over three decades of experience, the company is backed by a reputation of being the most professional in the business.