Archive | February, 2020

Aitken Spence Travels, the first Sri Lankan DMC to be Travelife Certified

17 Feb

Aitken Spence Travels the leading destination management company in Sri Lanka has been awarded the Travelife Certified sustainability award. The Travelife Certified award is a recognition for the company’s long-term efforts and leading position regarding sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

As a responsible travel organisation throughout its journey, Aitken Spence Travels championed all management and performance requirements to earn this title. The organisation complied with more than 160 criteria related to an operators’ sustainability management, office operations, working with suppliers and customer communication. The Travelife standard covers the ISO 26000 corporate social responsibility themes, including environment, biodiversity, human rights and labour relations; and is formally recognised as in full compliance with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council standards.

Mr. Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels commented, “We are delighted to be awarded the Travelife certification as a leading DMC in Sri Lanka and for having paved the way in the industry. As an organisation, we are committed towards sustainability and promote responsible tourism.”

“I am thankful to my team who are a set of professionals that goes beyond the call of duty. The dedication and commitment of our staff is commendable as sustainability is part of our DNA. We have implemented many activities that results in greater impact to our environment and we will continue to lead from the front.”, he further added.

Commenting on the certification, Mr. Naut Kusters, Manager of Travelife for tour operators stated, “I am delighted to see that sustainability in the tour operator’s sector is obtaining momentum. While we congratulate Aitken Spence Travels as a leading DMC in Sri Lanka for obtaining this certification, we hope that it will inspire other companies in Sri Lanka to follow the same path.”

Travelife was launched in Sri Lanka in 2016 in partnership with the Responsible Tourism Partnership Sri Lanka (RTPS). Today more than 20 Sri Lanka tour operators are working towards certification. Mr. Nishad Wijetunga, Chairman RTPS, stated “sustainability is key for the future of tourism in Sri Lanka. Aitken Spence Travels is one of the first companies in Sri Lanka to be awarded this certification which is of the highest international standards and is a historic landmark towards our goal to establish Sri Lanka as global leader in sustainable tourism”.

Travelife, which has been established with the support of the European Commission, is the leading international sustainability certification for the travel sector. More than 35 national travel associations are promoting the scheme to their members including ABTA, The British Travel Association and PATA, the Pacific Asian Travel Association. Since 2012, more than 600 Asian tour operators have been trained. They are now working step-by-step towards more sustainable operations.

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.

Aitken Spence PLC: Revenue grows 3.3% to Rs. 43.8 Bn, amidst challenging times, in the 9 months ended December 2019

11 Feb

The leading blue-chip conglomerate, Aitken Spence PLC remained resilient during a difficult period through its diversity of investments in eight countries, thereby recording favourable results for the nine months ended December 2019.

Amidst challenging times, revenue of the Group grew by 3.3% to Rs. 43.8 billion for the period ended December 2019. The Group’s EBITDA for the nine months remained stable at Rs. 6.8 billion.

Close to 57% of the Group’s PBT of Rs. 2.4 billion was generated through its investments overseas for the nine months ended December 2019.

The Group recorded a profit from operations of Rs. 3.7 billion compared to Rs. 4.6 billion recorded the previous year for the nine months under review. This was primarily due to the significant foreign exchange gains recorded in the previous year due to the 17.4% depreciation of the Sri Lankan rupee as against a 3.1% depreciation during the current year. Profit from operations of the Group stood at Rs.1.8 billion for the third quarter under review.

The Maritime & Freight Logistics sector performed exceptionally well recording a 20.6% growth in profits over the previous year. The Integrated Logistics and Maritime segments continued their exceptional performance recording significant improvement in profits. However, the Group’s freight segment did not come up to expectations mainly due to intense competition and lower yields.

The Tourism sector continued to be affected from the April aftermath during the reporting period, due to the downturn the industry witnessed in the early part of the financial year. The Maldivian hotels sector continued its healthy performance though somewhat subdued due to the initial losses incurred due to partial closure of 100 rooms for refurbishment during the period.

Notwithstanding the many obstacles witnessed by the local tourism industry, the Group’s Destination Management segment maintained its market share of tourist arrivals to the country whilst upholding its position as the market leader, in this segment.

The Tourism industry in Sri Lanka had seen a steady recovery following the Easter Sunday attacks, with tourists’ arrivals considerably improving during the last few months of 2019. However, the unfortunate outbreak of the coronavirus (2019-nCov) is dampening the recovery efforts of the country with cancellations being witnessed and the overall lack of interest in travel.

The Strategic Investments sector contributed Rs. 815 million towards the Group PBT. The Group’s investment in Printing in Fiji, is yet to bear fruition with considerable cost still being incurred on restructuring and revamping its operations. The lower prices recorded for tea resulted in the decline of the performance of the plantation segment compared to the previous year though remaining profitable.

The Services sector contributed 11.1% of the Group’s PBT and recorded a 5.0% growth in Profit Before Tax over the previous year.

The Group’s first Heritance Property in the Maldives; Heritance Aarah commenced commercial operations on 1st October 2019. This 150-room property recorded healthy levels of occupancy during the first months of operations and shows immense potential to command higher rates in the coming years. Following the ingrained ethos of sustainability at Aitken Spence, Heritance Aarah is the first property in the Maldives to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.

Steady progress is seen in the construction of the country’s first waste to energy power plant which is projected for completion shortly. Proving Aitken Spence’s commitment to the sustainable development of Sri Lanka, this pioneering venture will help solve the long outstanding waste disposal issue in Colombo city.

An associate company of Aitken Spence PLC, Elpitiya Plantations PLC has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Sim Leisure Group Ltd, a leading theme park developer and operator based in Penang, Malaysia, to set up a world-class ESCAPE theme park in the Galle region. This will promote economic development in terms of creating opportunities for local employment and boosting tourism in Sri Lanka. Construction of the theme park will commence in March 2020.

During the reporting period, Aitken Spence was awarded the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award for the third consecutive year organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Being the reigning winner of 2017 and 2018, Aitken Spence walked away with a hat trick winning the overall award along with 12 other awards in diverse categories and sectors – the highest number of awards received by a single company at the ceremony. Aitken Spence displays unparalleled commitment to sustainability as the only company to have been ranked among the Top Ten Best Corporate Citizens for 14 consecutive years.

With an indisputable repute as one of Sri Lanka’s pioneering corporates, Aitken Spence is a blue-chip conglomerate anchored to a heritage of excellence spanning over 150 years. Listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983, Aitken Spence is a responsible enterprise driven by over 14,000 employees across 16 industries in 8 countries. Creating opportunities for Sri Lanka across new frontiers, Aitken Spence PLC is an organisation committed to the development of Sri Lanka.