Archive | December, 2018

Marella Discovery makes her maiden call to Colombo

27 Dec



Super luxury passenger vessel M.V. Marella Discovery of Marella Cruises with 1,732 passengers and 764 crew on board made her maiden call at the Port of Colombo in December 2018.

In order to mark the maiden call of the vessel at the Port of Colombo plaque exchanges were held between the Master of the vessel, SLPA, local agents – Aitken Spence Shipping Ltd and travel operator – Aitken Spence Travels Ltd.

On behalf of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority Capt. Athula Hewavitharana – Managing Director exchanged plaques with the Master of Marella Discovery – Capt. Christopher N. Dodds. Mr. Iqram Cuttilan – Managing Director of Aitken Spence Shipping and Mr. Nalin Jayasundera – Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels exchanged plaques with the Master on behalf of the Aitken Spence Group subsidiaries.

Expressing views at the occasion, the Managing Director of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) – Capt. Athula Hewavitharana said that the Port of Colombo was honoured by the presence of Marella Discovery in Colombo.

Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson Cruises) is a British cruise line offering cruise holidays around Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. Marella Discovery is approximately 264 meters in length and 32 meters wide having 902 state rooms with a capacity to accommodate up to 2,074 passengers. The excursions organised by Aitken Spence Travels had over 1,000 passengers joining in to enjoy the city and immediate locations of Sri Lanka such as the Colombo heritage walk, exploring the city of Galle and Sri Lankan river safari.

Marella Discovery commenced its voyage from Europe calling at Italy, Crete and moving onto Egypt, Jordan, Oman, U.A.E. and several ports in India on her way to Sri Lanka and will thereafter cruise towards Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. The vessel that cruised under the flag of Malta called Colombo from Cochin, India and Sabang, Indonesia is her next port of call.

Established in 1868, Aitken Spence PLC marks its 150th anniversary. The Company has grown to great heights, especially with the diversification of the company in 2004 into non-traditional areas. The Company’s involvement in port efficiency enhancement projects in new markets has helped to successfully pursue a long-term directional shift from being service-related to becoming an investment-driven operation.

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Aitken Spence Hotels collects 12 awards in a week

20 Dec


Sri Lanka’s leading hospitality chain, Aitken Spence Hotels was recognised at multiple award ceremonies held last week in Colombo, bringing home a total of 12 awards at the 54th Annual Report Awards 2018, National Business Excellence Awards and Sri Lanka Tourism Awards 2018.

The hotel chain, part of the blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC, started its winning streak on 4 December at the 54th Annual Report Awards 2018 organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sri Lanka. The company took home the Silver for ‘Hotel Companies’ whilst Browns Beach Hotels PLC, also part of the Group’s subsidiaries was accoladed with the ‘Hotel Companies Compliance Award’. Held under the theme of ‘epitome of brilliance’ the award ceremony celebrates commitment of corporates towards best practices in annual corporate reporting through transparency, accountability and good governance.

At the National Business Excellence Awards held on 5 December, organised by the National Chamber of Commerce. Aitken Spence Hotels received eight awards in total including the ‘Silver Award in the Overall category’ along with three golds and four silvers. From the Sector Awards, the Company was awarded with the Gold for ‘Hospitality and Tourism’ in recognition of the distinct trailblazing innovations in products and services in the industry, and the First Runners Up in the ‘Extra Large Category’ companies.

Among the category wins were Golds in ‘Excellence in Environmental Sustainability’ and ‘Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility’ and Silver in ‘Excellence in Capacity Building’, ‘Excellence in Performance Management’ and ‘Excellence in Global Market Reach’. The Excellence Awards was organised to recognise business enterprises, which have demonstrated excellence in business, whilst contributing to the economic progress of the country.

The following day, on 6 December, the Company was rewarded yet again at the Sri Lanka Tourism Awards 2018 held after a lapse of six years. Heritance Kandalama, a Hall of Fame winner at the Presidential Awards (which was rebranded as Sri Lanka Tourism Awards this year) after three consecutive wins, was applauded as the Winner of the ‘Best Hotel-Sustainable and Green Practices’. Company’s most awarded individual with three Culinary Olympic wins under his belt (and the only chef in the world to have received the honour) Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe was recognised for ‘The Most Outstanding Culinary Contribution’.

Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management Stasshani Jayawardena speaking on the recent wins, stated that the manifold recognition was a testament to the superior product and service offerings of the chain. “As a hospitality chain that is constantly looking at challenging the status quo and innovating our way forward, these awards further reinforce our role as a leader in the industry. Our Sri Lankan hotels have certainly carved a name for themselves both here and abroad, and we are truly privileged to be recognised in so many fields”.

“It is hard work and perseverance that has helped us succeed thus far, along with the sheer passion of the team and their dedication to serve. In working together, I believe, we will be able to add more to our successes whilst simultaneously, promoting our island home as a vibrant destination, catering to diverse needs and wants of the global traveller,” she added.

Earlier this year, Aitken Spence Hotels was recognised at the South Asian Travel Awards (SATA) held in India with Sri Lankan and South Asia awards for Leading Eco Hotel/Resort; and Heritance Negombo and Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara securing destination-specific awards as Leading Beach Hotel/Resort and Leading Wellness and Spa Hotel/Resort respectively. Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara also won the Silver at the National Green Awards 2018.

Aitken Spence Hotels portfolio consists of 21 star-class properties, with 11 owned and managed properties in Sri Lanka, four in Maldives, four in Oman and one in India. The hotel chain will introduce the ‘Heritance’ brand of hotels to Maldives early next year with the opening of premium all-inclusive all-villa property, Heritance Aarah.

Fiji Ports Terminal wins Fiji Business Excellence Award for 2018

20 Dec


Fiji Ports Terminal Ltd. is the proud winner of Fiji Business Excellence Awards this year which was given away at a gala ceremony held at Sheraton Fiji resort in Denarau Fiji, last month by the President of the Republic of Fiji Islands Maj. Gen. (Retd) Jioji Konusi Konrote in the presence of a host of high ranking government officials and business leaders.

Aitken Spence PLC has a 51% shareholding in Fiji Ports Terminal Ltd. which was acquired under a public private partnership venture with Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd. of Fiji Islands. Aitken Spence PLC entered into the first ever public private partnership abroad by a Sri Lankan company when it acquired a controlling shareholding in Fiji Ports Terminals Ltd (FPTL) in 2013 and signed a 15-year concession agreement to manage Suva and Lautoka international ports in Fiji. Aitken Spence Ports International Ltd. provides the management expertise to FPTL.

Fiji Ports Terminal Ltd. CEO Hasthika Bandara Dela received the award on behalf of FPTL. He stated that this was a team effort amongst all members of the staff which was the key to FPTL being very progressive and achieving this award. He thanked the members of the staff of FPTL as well as the Board of Directors for their valuable contribution. He also stated that FPTL had been working hard over the last five years to put together processes and systems to ensure that higher efficiency and productivity levels were achieved while drastically improving the turnaround times of the vessels. This has resulted in more vessel calls, with higher export and import volumes assisting the economy of Fiji.

The President’s Business Excellence Award, is the highest award which is only awarded to organisations that have attained excellent organisational performance levels and are demonstrably world class organisations.

Aitken Spence Shipping Ltd is a pioneer in the industry as it provides import and export container handling services to some of the leading container carriers in the world, handling transhipment cargo, and the servicing of passenger cruise vessels, car carriers and casual callers. The port management segment operates and manages two main ports in Fiji whilst the port management segment manages cargo operations and equipment in the port of Nacala in Mozambique.

Established in 1868, Aitken Spence PLC marks its 150th anniversary. The Company has grown to great heights, especially with the diversification of the company in 2004 into non-traditional areas. The Company’s involvement in port efficiency enhancement projects in new markets has helped to successfully pursue a long-term directional shift from being service-related to becoming an investment-driven operation.

Aitken Spence Travels Wins Best Inbound Tour Operator at the Tourism Awards 2018

14 Dec

Aitken Spence Travels, won the Best Inbound Tour Operator under the category of Travel & Tourism Operator – Large, at the National Tourism Awards 2018 conducted by The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

Aitken Spence Travels were the recipient of the same category in 2012 at the Presidential awards, as it was known then. The company had won this prestigious award for three consecutive years previously and it was the only destination management company to enter the Hall of Fame.

This year the winners were chosen by a panel of eminent industry experts & respected corporate professionals. The competition entailed a written application and presentation to the judging panel and site visits. The criteria covered audited Financial performance, Corporate Social Responsibility, commitment to the environment, Business and marketing plans, Customer care, HR and Sustainability.

This accolade won by Aitken Spence Travels further confirms its preeminent position of powering the spirit of travel to surpass its competitors, in been recognised for its achievements in Sri Lanka’s Tourism industry, contributions made in uplifting the industry standards through destination marketing, innovation, best practices and for the overall contribution to the growth of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.

“Over the years, Aitken Spence Travels has been opening new markets across continents to expand and enrich the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. In the last financial year, the company served more than 178,000 happy visitors from across the globe to grow its overall arrivals to 16%, when Sri Lanka’s national average on arrivals were at 7%. The company can boldly state that we are the single largest room inventory buyer of 500,000 room nights of different star category hotels across the island and have generated over 1500 indirect employment opportunities in the communities we work and operate”, stated Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels.

Achievements such as this is possible due to the hard work, commitment and professionalism of our team and the many stakeholders who partner to deliver the best experience of Sri Lanka to our discerning guests of varied backgrounds.

“I take this opportunity to place my sincere appreciation and thanks to my staff of Aitken Spence Travels who has always upheld the high standards maintained by the company with professionalism, quick response and attention to detail towards our travel agents’ inquiries and their visitor needs and wants. We are immensely grateful to our valuable Tour Operator partners who have trusted us for our expertise and built long standing partnerships, which is one of the pillars to our success. Our sincere thanks also goes to the numerous hotel partners who have worked closely with us in delivering high standard products and the numerous suppliers who have grown with us in delivering an exceptional experience of destination Sri Lanka”, added Mr. Jayasundera.

“Our sincere gratitude to our joint venture partner TUI, the world’s largest integrated tourism company that has synergised their strengths to work closely with Aitken Spence Travels and bring about the much needed charters, cruises and groups. We also express our sincere gratitude to our chairman and board of directors for their trust, confidence and guidance to the Aitken Spence Travels team”, said Mr. Jayasundera.

The tourism industry has the potential to be the number one foreign exchange earner for the country if all stakeholders of the tourism industry work together to achieve this objective. However, ‘Ones destiny is in ones own hands’, hence we will pursue in moving forward to achieve the 200,000 happy visitor mark for the 2018/19 financial year and will continue to be the highest foreign exchange earning destination management company in Sri Lanka.