Archive | July, 2014

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

31 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

30 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

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Diversification Delivers for Elpitiya Plantations

11 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elpitiya Plantations PLC CEO Bhathiya Bulumulla.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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