Aitken Spence Hotels’ sustainability ethos commended yet again!

22 Aug

Premier hospitality chain, Aitken Spence Hotels, reaffirmed their position as leaders in sustainable hospitality with four Heritance Hotels & Resorts properties walking away with multiple accolades at the National Sustainability Tourism Certification (NSTC) ceremony held on 5th August 2019.

Heritance Kandalama was the only property to be recognised in the Platinum category, the highest accolade awarded at the NSTC, whilst securing a special award for Environmental Preservation. Heritance Tea Factory was placed in the Gold category followed by a special award for Effective Sustainability Management. Heritance Ahungalla and Heritance Ayurveda were commended as Bronze winners.

This recognition programme was convened by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) with the technical and financial assistance of Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) of UNDP in mid-2018. The efforts capture the industry’s stance towards the global movement for sustainable tourism and to successfully compete as a high-demand destination.

Aitken Spence Hotels, having operated on a comprehensive sustainable model that takes into account the varied attributes that encompass the triple bottom line, has been a forerunner in the industry for its long-term vision supporting a well-balanced business ecosystem. Moreover, the hotel chain has been recognised both locally and internationally for its efforts. In particular, Heritance Kandalama pioneered the integration of environment and social conscious practices into hotel operations and implementing an extensive 7R system (Reject, Reduce, Reuse, Reclaim, Repair, Replace and Recycle) to reduce carbon and waste footprint.

Among its many accreditations are Heritance Kandalama being the first Green Globe 21 certified hotel in Asia, the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified hotel in the world and the first hotel chain in the World to have a certified energy management system (ISO 50001:2011). All Heritance Hotels and Resorts in Sri Lanka are Travelife Gold certified, while also adhering to ISO standards in environmental management, HACCP food safety and energy management.

“We are elated to be recognised in the National Sustainability Tourism Certification awards. It attests the hard work of our teams to provide exceptional hospitality services while also protecting the environment and empowering our communities.” Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management, Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena said.

“Aitken Spence Hotels have carved a niche in the industry for its forward-thinking holistic sustainability practices that goes beyond the general understanding from an ‘eco’ perspective. The practices have been firmly established within the core of our operations, enabling us to lead from the onset. Our teams continually work towards improving the processes year on year, combining our expertise with emerging trends to serve the industry in the most sustainable manner.” she added further.

More on the hotels’ sustainable endeavours can be viewed at http://bit.ly/33grgzY  (Annual Report 18/19).

The Heritance Hotels and Resorts is part of the hospitality arm of Sri Lankan blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC which operates 21 hotels and resorts across Sri Lanka, Maldives, Oman and India. The Company’s owned hotels are reflected under the Heritance, Adaaran and Turyaa brands, popular around the world for its exceptional service and undisputed product and curated lifestyle experiences. The Company’s Sri Lankan portfolio includes 11 resorts spread across the island, whilst the Maldives resorts totals to five, four in Oman and one in India.

Heritance Kandalama General Manager Priyan Wijerathne receiving the award

 

Heritance Tea Factory team receiving the award and certification

 

Heritance Ahungalla General Manager Sisira Senarath receiving the certificate

 

Heritance Ayurveda General Manager Janaka Buddhakorala receiving the certification

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Aitken Spence Travels, recognised as a ‘Best Employer’ in destination management

13 Aug

The largest inbound tour operator in the country, Aitken Spence Travels was recently recognised with a ‘Sri Lanka Best Employer Brand Award’ by World Federation of HR Professionals, endorsed by CHRO Asia. Aitken Spence Travels was the only destination management company to have been conferred as Sri Lanka’s Best Employer Brand in this platform.

This was awarded at the 4th edition of the Sri Lanka Best Employer Brand Awards 2019, held at Taj Samudra hotel recently. This is a regional platform linked to the Employer Branding Awards 2019-2020 (currently in its 14th edition) convened by the Employer Banding Institute of India as a build-up to the Global Employer Brands programme, part of the World HRD Congress which is into its 28th Edition in 2020.

This programme was launched in Sri Lanka to recognise the top companies and brands in Sri Lanka that have exemplary HR practices and have effectively used marketing communications for human resource development. Winners are selected by drawing reference from research illustrating highest regard for organisations as preferred employers among diverse stakeholders.

Commenting on this recognition, Mr. Nalin Jayasundera – Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels said, “We are humbled by this recognition. Our employees are our most cherished asset. In an industry with the highest rate of turnover, and a high representation of millennials, it is common knowledge that Aitken Spence Travels is seen as a training ground of sorts for the best talent. Regardless of the length of time served with us, we have consistently worked towards empowering our workforce with the required skills, experience, industry exposure and information and it is that commitment that has resulted in producing an award winning team. We appreciate these endorsements by globally reputed influencers, which serve to reinforce the Company’s commitment to continuously elevate its performance in the industry by drawing on the expertise of its partners and principals.”

Aitken Spence Travels, part of the diversified blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC, is a joint venture with TUI Travel PLC, and is the leading destination management company in Sri Lanka. Undoubtedly the largest inbound tourism operator in the country, Aitken Spence Travels affirmed its market leadership position by facilitating over 200,000 visitors to Sri Lanka within the 2018/2019 financial year, surpassing the previous year’s record number of 178,000 happy visitors.

In 2018/2019, Aitken Spence Travels invested over Rs. 250Mn to promote Sri Lanka as a destination in overseas markets. To manage ISO 9001:2015 Travelife Partner certified quality of service, every effort is taken to educate and equip employees, from top management to tour guides, with the required skills, knowledge and information.

Catering to a varied number of segments in the travels industry from cruise to special interest groups, sports tours, nature and luxury tours, Aitken Spence Travels continuously provides unique propositions to its clientele in order to maintain a competitive edge in the market. The company’s ability to deliver a distinctive value proposition to each market is a testament to its ability in drawing on the capabilities of its talent pool to deliver a competitive advantage for its customers.

Strength in Diversity: Aitken Spence Shows Resilience with 17.5% Revenue Increase in 1Q

8 Aug

In the aftermath of the devastating events of 21st April in Sri Lanka, the first quarter of 2019 was adversely impacted. As the country copes with multiple challenges, Sri Lanka’s economic growth is forecast at 2.7% in 2019. Overall, the performance of the services sector in the country declined to 4.1% year-on-year, compared to 5.5% GDP growth last year. Among other industries, tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in May 2019 recorded a drastic decline of 70.8% from the arrivals in May of 2018. Although the arrivals increased by 19% by June 2019, it is yet 57% less compared to the arrivals in June 2018. Earnings from the country’s agricultural exports declined during the first five months of 2019 due to poor performance observed in tea, minor agricultural products and rubber exports.

Against this challenging macroeconomic backdrop, Aitken Spence PLC reported a 17.5% growth in Group revenue during the first quarter of the year at Rs. 12.4 billion compared to Rs. 10.6 billion recorded in the previous financial year.

Aitken Spence continues to manifest its dominance in overseas markets that has generated approximately 75% of the Group’s overall profits in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 60% in the first quarter of 2018. Overseas expansion, and thereby creating opportunities in local and overseas markets, is a vital aspect of the business strategy of Aitken Spence and it has strengthened the company’s resilience amidst a turbulent economic environment.  At present, Aitken Spence has a presence in Asia, Middle East, South Pacific and Africa and the efficacy of this strategy is evident to date.

At the same time, profit-before-tax for the quarter was Rs. 475 million from Rs. 538 million over the previous year. This is after accounting for an additional charge of Rs. 36 million for the quarter, due to the adoption of the new leasing standard SLFRS 16 as required. There was no corresponding adjustment made in the previous year.

“Aitken Spence is a company that has proven that our strength is in our diversity. The devastation of the Easter attacks should motivate unity, resilience and continual progress. With normalcy being gradually restored, we are confident that business will bounce back, and our efforts will continue to this end,” said Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

“We are pleased to be seen in the forefront of showcasing business resilience amidst challenging times. Following the Easter attacks, Aitken Spence Maritime facilitated the first luxury cruise ship carrying 350 passengers to call on Sri Lankan ports and Aitken Spence Travels Cruise team was responsible for the operation of all the shore excursions for its passengers,” he added further.

The tourism sector was significantly impacted by the Easter attacks that resulted in a loss of Rs. 385 million for the quarter, over the loss of Rs. 204 million in the previous year. However, the resorts in the Maldives recorded a strong growth with the newly opened Heritance Aarah which is the first overseas operation to carry the premium brand ‘Heritance’. The hotel property recently opened in March 2019 and is the latest addition to have been ‘Gold’ certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED buildings save energy, water, resources, generate less waste and support human health. Only three months into its opening, Heritance Aarah marked a landslide victory at the Food & Hospitality Asia Maldives 2019 winning 33 awards, the highest number won by an individual property.

Despite the travel advisories issued for Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the Easter attacks, the inbound tourism segment has performed well. The destination management segment has also set up a new venture in Myanmar and operations are expected to commence shortly. This is a further testament to expansion overseas which help to offset negative impacts faced in the domestic segment. Moreover, this promotes our skills and expertise in a fast-growing tourist destination such as Myanmar.

Amidst the sluggish economic growth and stiff competition, the maritime & logistics and services sectors recorded increments. The quarterly profit-before-tax of the maritime & logistics sector increased by 21% to Rs. 528 million, over the previous year. The sector’s revenue increased by 4.4% to Rs.2.8 billion, mainly driven by its overseas operations.

Strategic investments and services sectors also recorded profit growth, of 8.4% to Rs. 242 million and 11.1% to Rs. 91 million respectively, in the first quarter.

Aitken Spence PLC won the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2018 for the second successive year, the 3rd win overall for the company, and has been ranked among the Top 10 Corporate Citizens for an unprecedented 13 consecutive years. Aitken Spence PLC has also been ranked Platinum and among the top 5 companies in the STING/ LMD Corporate Accountability Index for 6 consecutive indices. Recently, Aitken Spence was adjudged the overall winner at the ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards for the year 2018.

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, Travels, Maritime Services, Logistic Solutions, Plantations, Power Generation, Financial Outsourcing, Insurance, IT, Printing and Apparel sectors. With a geographical presence in 8 countries and growing, creating opportunities for Sri Lanka across new frontiers, Aitken Spence PLC remains committed to the development of our nation.

Deshamanya D.H.S. Jayawardena – Chairman Aitken Spence PLC

 

Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake – Deputy Chairman and Managing Director Aitken Spence PLC

 

Landmark victory for Heritance Aarah and Adaaran Resorts at an International Culinary Challenge

30 Jul

Culinary prowess of the leading hospitality chain Aitken Spence Hotels was recognised with an impressive 94 awards at the recently concluded Food & Hospitality Asia Maldives 2019 (FHAM) competition, with its new entrant, Heritance Aarah clinching 19 Golds – highest number won by an individual property.

Heritance Aarah is the latest addition to the noteworthy hospitality portfolio of Aitken Spence Hotels. Opened in end March 2019, Heritance Aarah is Aitken Spence’s first ‘Heritance’ brand in an overseas operation. Heritance Aarah showcased its versatile food and dining offering through the 33 awards won in total. The team, trained and led by culinary maestros of the Group, brought home six silver awards, five bronze awards, three merit awards and 11 special individual awards; a testament to the superior F&B offering at the resort which features six (06) restaurants and four (04) bars. The culinary experience at the premium, all-inclusive resort includes international buffets such as French and Italian cuisines, Middle Eastern flavours, street food favourites, and many innovative dishes among the fusion of flavours offered.

Aitken Spence Hotel’s long-standing brand in the Maldives ‘Adaaran Resorts’ added to the overall jubilation with 62 awards, totalling the Group’s win to 94. Adaaran Select Meedhupparu won 19 awards, Adaaran Prestige Vadoo 14 awards, Adaaran Select Hudhuransushi 12 awards and Adaaran Club Rannalhi five awards. Additionally, Aitken Spence Hotels received 11 Special Awards.

The team competed with 500 chefs from international and local hospitality chains in diverse categories assessed by a panel of industry experts. The event was held from 15th-17th July 2019 in Dharubaaruge, Maldives.

“This recognition is a further testament to our exceptional culinary offering in the Maldives, which is a hallmark of our properties. I am delighted at this significant win. With Heritance Aarah shining at FHAM just three months since it opened doors, guests from around the world would have got a glimpse of the quality and creativity they can experience at a Heritance or Adaaran property.” said Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management Stasshani Jayawardena.

Whilst congratulating the team, she also noted the commitment of the Group to offer innovative culinary wonders to the industry. “The awards highlight our continued efforts to raise the bar in service, quality and the overall experience. As a hospitality group that is globally renowned for superior service and unique offerings, our continual efforts are focused towards transcending guest expectations at every turn. With lifestyle experiences being a key deciding factor, our resorts in the Maldives deliver the finest curated excursions through exhilarating activities and memorable gastronomic experiences.”

FHAM International Culinary Challenge & Exhibition is recorded as the premier event experienced by the hospitality industry and is the largest gathering of the industry in the Maldives. The event is endorsed and certified by the World Association of Chefs and Society (WACS) and is organised in partnership with Chef Guilds of Maldives (CGM) and Chef Guilds of Lanka (CGL), in association with the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies of the Maldives National University, the Ministry of Tourism Arts & Culture and the Ministry of Economic Development – Maldives, and the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The involvement of all these organisations and institutions of Maldives makes it the official exhibition and culinary challenge for the hospitality industry of Maldives.

Ladies first! Aitken Spence Hotels invests Rs. 70 Mn in ladies’ accommodation facility at Kandalama

24 Jul

The tourism industry generates income and employment worldwide. According to global statistics published by the World Travel and Tourism Council in March 2019, 1 in 10 jobs overall in 2018 and 1 in 5 new jobs created over the last five years were attributed to the tourism industry. It has also created a plethora of direct and indirect opportunities across Sri Lanka. However, similar to global statistics, female representation in the tourism sector is considerably low.

When more women work, economies grow. Enabling economic participation for women pays enormous dividends for families, communities and economies. However, the gender parity in the workforce is the widest in emerging economies such as Sri Lanka due to many reasons. These reasons could range from social and cultural limitations to a dearth of required skills.

Premier hospitality chain, Aitken Spence Hotels has worked over the years to bridge the gap of required skills among youth. In their efforts to create and promote a conducive work environment as an equal opportunity employer, Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC opened a well-equipped ladies’ accommodation facility at its most iconic property, Heritance Kandalama. This is yet another benchmark in the tourism and hospitality industry as this iconic property marks 25 years.

“Aitken Spence Hotels have always been a Company that valued and promoted equality and non-discrimination,” Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management, Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena said “The Company’s decision to invest Rs. 70 Mn in infrastructure is a reiteration of its commitment to enable greater access to our immediate communities to opportunities in the tourism and hospitality industry, and our effort to ensure women also benefit from those opportunities. We are confident that our proactive efforts towards enhancing accommodation and amenities will increase the female representation within our workforce.”

The hotel maintains a close relationship with its immediate community and regularly conducts educational programmes at local schools to enhance skills and knowledge among youth. With their employment policies giving priority to local applicants, over 60% of its workforce is from the community within 35-40km radius. Families of new recruits are invited to observe the working environment at all properties to allow them the peace of mind of their child’s safety and wellbeing.

“Competitiveness of Sri Lanka’s tourism and hospitality workforce weighs heavily on promoting employment for women and youth. Encouraging higher involvement from these two demographics, however, remains a challenge. Young women are hesitant to pursue a career in tourism and hospitality due to a myriad of socio-cultural views. It is our belief that all efforts must be made to welcome more women into the industry and to create a working environment where they feel safe and comfortable; thereby making a positive ripple effect on the economy.” She asserted that the ladies’ accommodation is but one area of the Company’s investment towards attracting a more diverse workforce.

The newly launched facility can accommodate over 40 females and offers three room categories – for Executives, Supervisors and Non-Executives. Comparable in design to a guest room, this ladies’ accommodation is fully equipped with all amenities for the comfort of the employees. The facility also consists of two common lounge areas designed for rest and relaxation.

This initiative is a testament to the company’s commitment to empower greater female representation in the hospitality and tourism industry. Currently at Aitken Spence Hotels, 15% of the Management is represented by women, with 24% in the Executive cadre and 7% at Associate level. Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC has set an ambitious target to achieve 20% female representation by 2020 and hopes to continue improving on that. This initiative to build accommodation facilities for the female workforce will be gradually rolled out at the hotel chain’s other owned properties.

As one of the first signatories of the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles and a trendsetter in the industry, Aitken Spence is confident that the efforts thus unrolled will bear fruit in the future by setting a precedent for establishing tourism as a tool for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Heritance Kandalama ladies with their parents, Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena, General Manager Mr. Priyan Wijerathne

Exterior

Indoor lounge area

Outdoor lounge area

 

 

Aitken Spence Travels continues to be Carbon Neutral

4 Jul

Aitken Spence Travels, Sri Lanka’s largest inbound tour operator has achieved “Carbon Neutral” status for the financial year 2018/2019. The Company offset its carbon footprint by purchasing United Nations Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) through biomass-based power project. The carbon neutrality status has been achieved for organisational level operations within the boundary of Aitken Spence Travels (Pvt) Ltd, 4th floor, Tower 2, 315, Vauxhall Street, Colombo 2.

The organisational level greenhouse gas emission and removals were assessed in accordance with ISO 14064-1: 2006 & Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and been verified by the National Cleaner Production Center in Sri Lanka. The Scope covered in the assessment includes company-owned vehicle fleet, employee commuting, employee business travels, fire extinguishers, water consumption, grid electricity and its transmission and distribution loss.

The journey of reducing its carbon footprint started six years ago when Aitken Spence Travels took measures to mitigate the impact it made on the environment. In 2012, the entire process was audited by the Sri Lanka Carbon Fund. Going forward, Aitken Spence Travels intends to offer carbon neutral tours as part of the larger sustainability initiative titled as the ‘Travel Kindly’ brand. This initiative is in place to promote responsible travel options.

Tourists visiting Sri Lanka through Aitken Spence Travels can choose to be a part of the Company’s sustainability initiatives such as minimising carbon footprint when partaking in tours and excursions designed to have minimum impact on the environment. Moreover, Aitken Spence Travels promotes nature-based excursions, and educates tourists on best practices to follow and to influence responsible tourism practices in the industry. The destination management operation also promotes less visited national parks in Sri Lanka to reduce congestion in popular national parks that tends to impose a strain on the wildlife of these locations. The dedicated team of Aitken Spence Travels is empowered with insights to responsible tourism through employee engagement campaigns and educational discussion forums with industry experts.

“Our carbon neutral status affirms Aitken Spence Travels’ commitment towards environmental protection and promoting eco-friendly business and production practices. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support from the top management and dedicated staff members which have collectively been the success factors in achieving the carbon neutral status. commented Mr. Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels.

“We actively promote sustainable tourism practices as we understand our impact to the community and environment when carrying out our operations. Aitken Spence Travels takes proactive steps in creating a demand for environment conscious tourists while ensuring its tourism practices are sustainable”, he added.

Aitken Spence Travels obtained the Travelife Partnership Certification for the operations keeping in line with global sustainable tourism practices and has a longstanding partnership with TUI, the world’s largest integrated tourism company. Aitken Spence Travels won the Best Inbound Tour Operator award under the category of Travel & Tourism Operator – Large, at the National Tourism Awards 2018 conducted by The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. The first destination management company to obtain ISO 9001:2008 was none other than Aitken Spence Travels. Furthermore, the Company’s operations are ISO 14001:2015 certified for their efforts towards environmental impact control.

Aitken Spence Travels affirmed its market leadership position by facilitating over 200,000 visitors to Sri Lanka in the financial year 2018/19. The Group’s destination management arm, handles inbound and outbound tour packages for groups, FIT and the MICE segments which operates in a highly competitive business environment.

Officials of Aitken Spence Travels and National Cleaner Production Center (NCPC) at the presentation exchange of the Endorsement of Greenhouse gas inventory of Aitken Spence Travels.

L-R

Rumalka Amanthi, Junior Executive, Aitken Spence Travels, Upul Kumara, Assistant Manager, Aitken Spence Travels, Tikiri Ellepola, Chief Operating Officer, Aitken Spence Travels, Samantha Kumarasena, Chief Executive Officer, National Cleaner Production Center Sri Lanka and Harshini Rananjali, RECP-technologist, National Cleaner Production Center Sri Lanka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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.