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Aitken Spence Maritime ushers in the first cruise ship for the season – ‘Costa Victoria’

7 Nov

Aitken Spence Maritime launched the passenger cruise season with Italy’s biggest tour operator Costa Cruises. The luxurious passenger vessel ‘Costa Victoria’ called Colombo Port on the 05th of November 2019 carrying 1,739 passengers and 790 crew members on board.

Costa Cruises offers cruise holidays to Europe, Mediterranean, Caribbean and Asian destinations. Costa Victoria is adorned with a stunning combination of Italian and Swedish design, with a capacity to accommodate 2,394 passengers in 918 cabins and suits. During this season, Costa Cruises offers cruise packages to West India, Maldives and Colombo on a fortnightly basis for those seeking to join the voyage from any port of call.

As the local agents, Aitken Spence Maritime persuaded Costa Cruises to continue cruise calls to Colombo, considering all precautions taken by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Navy and the Police ensuring the safety and security of all passengers.

The Costa Cruises will have 6 vessels between November and December 2019 to the Port of Colombo. This operation will act as a key influencer for tourism, paving the way for other cruise operators to call at Sri Lankan Ports.

There are over 700 passengers engaging in excursions to enjoy the city and immediate locations of Sri Lanka such as the Colombo heritage walk, exploring the city of Galle, Kandy and key places of historical interests.

“We are delighted to begin the passenger cruise season by facilitating the first vessel Costa Victoria. Aitken Spence Maritime has been aggressively promoting cruise calls to Colombo and are expecting several cruise operators in the following weeks. It is also inspiring for the team to see their efforts materialise. Aitken Spence Maritime will continue to offer comprehensive, synergised services to cruise operators that in turn will boost tourism in the country,” said Mr. Iqram Cuttilan, Managing Director of the Aitken Spence Maritime sector.

Aitken Spence Maritime is a pioneer in the industry and was the first Sri Lankan company to undertake port efficiency enhancement management overseas with its entry into the African Continent and subsequently the South Pacific. The company handles all areas of maritime services – from shipping and cargo handling services, to liner agency, cruise vessel, port management and development, chartering services and maritime education.

Aitken Spence Hotels Victorious with Heritance Hotels Sweeping the Culinary Art Expo 2019

28 Oct

Aitken Spence Hotels Culinary Art Food Expo 2019 – Winning Team

 

Aitken Spence Hotels showed their mettle at the Culinary Art Food Expo 2019 walking away with the championship trophy and an impressive 130 medals in total. Heritance Hotels & Resorts were the stars of the show clinching 126 medals.

Heritance Aarah Maldives emerged ‘Overall Champion’, the second win for the luxury resort within just few months of operations. The property also excelled at the Food & Hospitality Asia Maldives 2019 (FHAM) competition with the highest number of awards won by an individual property.

Heritance Hotels along with Turyaa collectively won 42 Gold, 37 Silver and 51 Bronze medals. Aitken Spence Hotels received the most number of medals for a company at this event.

Heritance Kandalama emerged ‘Most Outstanding Cultural Triangle Team’ with 4 Gold, 11 Silver and 19 bronze medals. Heritance Ahungalla won 22 medals while Heritance Negombo won 21 medals. Heritance Tea Factory and Heritance Ayurveda won 4 medals in total. Turyaa Kalutara also won 4 medals at the competition.

Known as South East Asia’s biggest food and hospitality show, Culinary Art Food Expo was organised by Chefs’ Guild of Lanka together with World Association of Chefs Societies and CDC Events & Travels. The event was held from 22-24 October 2019.

Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena, Executive Director – Aitken Spence PLC and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels congratulated the teams, expressing delight over the many accolades. “Aitken Spence Hotels, and especially the Heritance properties, are known for their distinction in the culinary field. Our resorts, irrespective of its location, have been commended many a times on the unique F&B offering – by certifications, awards and most importantly, our guests. As such, the awards that are brought home from this competition are not a mere matter of pride but a reiteration of our commitment to nurture talent and present only the very best to those who walk in through our doors,” she said. Ms. Jayawardena, who also heads the Tourism and Leisure sector of Aitken Spence, added “The achievements of Heritance Aarah Maldives is especially commendable as it has been in operation for just a few months and have won two championship awards both in Maldives and Sri Lanka.”

Ms. Jayawardena also asserted that this recognition reflects the Company’s dedication to excellence and passion to drive innovation. “Since inception, the Company has been steadfast in its commitment to cultivate talent, promote innovation, inspire youth and local community development. This is evidence of the talents of our youth and we are proud to call them part of our family. We hope they utilise all available resources to improve their capabilities and together, create memorable holidays for our guests.”

The winning team was recognised at a ceremony held at Aitken Spence Towers, presided by Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director, Aitken Spence PLC.

Aitken Spence Hotels is part of the Sri Lankan blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC and 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 Aarah

Aitken Spence PLC among the top ten whilst Aitken Spence Hotels bag sectoral accolade at the CMA Excellence in Integrated Reporting Awards 2019

25 Oct

Building on its tenacious journey towards excellence, the conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC was ranked among the ‘Top 10 corporates for the Best Integrated Report’ at the CMA Excellence in Integrated Reporting Awards 2019 held for the fifth consecutive year. Adding colour to the prestigious event and its portfolio of recognition, Aitken Spence Hotels Annual Report presented under the theme “The Moment Momentum” walked away with the award for the Best Integrated Report – Hotels & Travels Sector whilst securing a certificate of Merit for Overall Excellence in Integrated Reporting.

The esteemed awards ceremony organised by the Institute of Certified Management Accountants of Sri Lanka (CMA), was graced by the Chief Guest – Honourable Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya and Keynote Speaker – Prof. Mervyn E. King SC, Chair Emeritus of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and former Judge of the Supreme Court of South Africa.

The Aitken Spence Group with its long and distinguished history of over 150 years as one of the nation’s most respected conglomerates with thriving business interests in major industry sectors in Sri Lanka and beyond, have created a vibrant business enterprise by being smart and far-sighted and now adept at perceiving where the best avenues for value creation lie. The 36th annual report of Aitken Spence PLC based on the theme ‘Future Fit’ reflects the Organisation’s strategic direction that has transformed over the years, embracing international best practice in corporate reporting. It is the eighth integrated annual report which contained information for providers of financial capital and is of interest to other valuable stakeholders. The corporate’s aim is to communicate relevant material information in a concise but comprehensive manner, providing a balanced review of its performance.

As one of the leading Sri Lankan hospitality enterprises, with a uniquely diverse portfolio of properties spread across the region, Aitken Spence Hotels believe that when they create special moments for the people while protecting the environment and creating value for the communities served, they are creating not just one moment, but extraordinary experiences in every sphere of their operations. The eighth Integrated Annual Report of Aitken Spence Hotels comprises rich information that communicates the alignment between the strategy, stakeholder needs, business model and triple bottom line performance.

The dual awards won by the Group and Hotels segment at the CMA Excellence in Integrated Reporting Awards is a further testimony to the Organisation’s commitment to international best reporting practices such as GRI and the IR Framework issued by the International Integrated Reporting Council.

Ms. Dilani Katipearachchi Vice President (right) – Corporate Finance and Ms. Shinska Wijesinha – Asst. Manager (left) Corporate Finance receiving the Aitken Spence PLC Group recognition as one of the Ten Best Integrated Reports.

 

Mr. Jeevaka Weerakone – COO Aitken Spence Hotels(right) and Mr. Dammika Ekanayake – Assistant Vice President (left) Aitken Spence Hotels receiving the award for the Best Integrated Report – Hotels & Travels Sector and a certificate of merit for overall excellence in Integrated reporting.

Aitken Spence consistently ranked among the Top 10 Most Respected Entities in Sri Lanka

17 Oct

The award for Sri Lanka’s Most Respected entity for 2019 is presented to Aitken Spence. From left to right: Ms. Nilanthi Sivapragasam (Chief Financial Officer – Aitken Spence), Dr. Rohan Fernando (Executive Director – Aitken Spence), Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake (Deputy Chairman & Managing Director – Aitken Spence), Mr. Hiran Hewavisenti (Editor-in-Chief – LMD), Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena (Executive Director – Aitken Spence and Head of Tourism & Leisure), Mr. Rohan Pandithakorralage (Chief Human Resources Officer – Aitken Spence) and Mr. Brian Emmanuel (Marketing Director – LMD).

 

Inspired by the heritage and entrepreneurial journey for over 150 years, Aitken Spence shines among the top 10 of LMD’s Most Respected entities hall of fame 2019. Being a conglomerate that has pioneered many successful ventures whilst delivering long term value to all stakeholders, Aitken Spence secured a total score of 299, surpassing many large corporates in Sri Lanka.

The 15th annual edition of the Most Respected entities ranked the nation’s most admired corporations, adopted a revised methodology for ranking entities. LMD’s Most Respected rankings are based on an exclusive survey conducted by a leading research company Nielsen to gauge peer perceptions through a weighted ranking system. The key criteria include financial performance, quality consciousness, management profile, honesty, innovation, dynamism, corporate culture, CSR, vision and nation-mindedness.

Commending the achievement Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC said, “With an impactful legacy of over 150 years not just in Sri Lanka but internationally as well, our priority has always been to be a sustainable and a responsible organisation that delivers long term value to employees, customers, partners, communities and other stakeholders. Moreover, our ability to adapt and to be agile yet strong and stable, guarantees our pledge to stakeholders that we create a positive impact for people and the environment that enriches us.”

“The diversity of the Group’s business sectors and its geographical span has been the corner stone of the Group’s success throughout the years. Investments that were strategically thought out and passionately executed has not only propelled it to greater heights but has also enabled us to withstand the fluctuations of fortunes of the Sri Lankan and global economies. We are extremely pleased that our position among the Most Respected has improved in comparison to the previous years and this is a further testimony that we are moving forward despite the many challenges faced in both the local and global landscape,” he further added.

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. The Company is empowered by a team of over 14,000 individuals, with a geographical presence in 8 countries and growing, creating opportunities for Sri Lanka across new frontiers.

 

Singapore Airlines’ A350-900 Medium Haul Aircraft on its maiden voyage to Colombo

1 Oct

Singapore International Airlines (SIA) will introduce the new Airbus A350-900 medium haul aircraft to Colombo on the 1st of October 2019.

The new medium-haul Business Class seats have been manufactured by Stelia Aerospace. Features of the aircraft are built to enhance the overall in-flight experience by optimising comfort and reducing jetlag, providing better entertainment and personalisation.

The A350-900 medium haul aircrafts are also fitted with the latest Thales AVANT in-flight entertainment system – a first in SIA’s fleet. Passengers onboard will have the pleasure of enjoying Singapore Airlines’ specialised myKrisWorld platform and its selection of more than 1,800 movies, TV shows, audio programmes and games with even greater flexibility. Personalised content recommendations will be based on passenger preferences and viewing history. KrisFlyer members and Business Class customers will also have access to additional in-flight entertainment content choices.  In addition, customers will have access to high-speed in-flight WiFi service on the new A350-900, equipped with Inmarsat GX Aviation’s broadband connectivity system offered through SITAONAIR.

Commenting about this feat, Mr. Hu Hongyao, General Manager of Singapore Airlines Sri Lanka added “Singapore Airlines will celebrate its 50th year in Sri Lanka in 2020. As part of the lead up to our Golden Jubilee celebrations, we are pleased to introduce the A350 Medium Haul aircraft on the Colombo-Singapore route. Singapore Airlines is confident of the country’s recovery in the immediate future and we look forward to be a part of the Sri Lanka success story in the many years to come.”

It is a fitting tribute to the fleet’s loyal passengers to and from Colombo where SIA has maintained a strong relationship for almost half a century, through Aitken Spence Aviation.

“We are extremely delighted to introduce the A350-900 medium haul to Colombo. Customer experience is priority to us; this is articulated strongly in our values as quality and reliability are hallmarks of the SIA service. Our unbroken partnership with Singapore Airlines, spanning over four decades as the longest serving General Sales Agent in the SIA network, reflects the trust and confidence one of the best airlines in the world has placed in our country. We take pride in this and we will continue to set higher benchmarks in the industry,” commented Mr. Vasantha Kudaliyanage, Managing Director of the General Sales Agency for Singapore Airlines.

SQ 468 will take its maiden voyage to Colombo from Singapore Changi Airport at 2200hrs local time on 01 October 2019 and arrive in Colombo at 2335 hrs local time. The return flight, SQ469, will depart from Colombo at 0050 hrs local time and arrive in Singapore at 0720 hrs local time on 02 October 2019.

 

Aitken Spence and its Chairman receive awards at the Most Admired Companies and Leaders of Sri Lanka 2019

30 Sep

Aitken Spence PLC was ranked among the Top 10 Most Admired Companies of Sri Lanka 2019 for the second consecutive year by International Chamber of Commerce, Sri Lanka (ICCSL) and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Sri Lanka.

The Most Admired Companies of Sri Lanka 2019 awards was held on the 25th of September 2019 at BMICH to celebrate the best in Sri Lankan business. The Chief Guest, Honourable Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was present at the event. This award recognises organisations that promote the best sustainable practices and have the highest standards of ethics and governance. Moreover, it distinguishes companies that have built strong reputations and drive prosperity in Sri Lanka through the creation of long-term value.

In addition to recognising the Most Admired Companies of Sri Lanka 2019, the Most Admired Leaders of Sri Lanka 2019 were acknowledged at this award ceremony. A special award under the category of ‘Business Accomplishments – Entrepreneurship’ was presented to Deshamanya D.H.S. Jayawardena to pay tribute to a business leader in Sri Lanka for unparalleled success over many years. Mr. Jayawardena is the Chairman of Aitken Spence PLC, the founding director and current Chairman/Managing Director of Stassen Group and other notable business entities in the country. His inspirational leadership has been the underpinning of the noteworthy milestones that the Company has achieved. Furthermore, his entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen, foresight has fueled a capable team at Aitken Spence that are passionate, and purpose driven to reach excellence in every sphere of their work. Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena, Director of Aitken Spence PLC, collected the award on his behalf.

“Aitken Spence has always been a cut above the rest in terms of financial performance and value creation for shareholders, customers, employees and the general community while protecting the environment that sustains us. This award is a further testimony that as a responsible organisation, we create positive impact for all our stakeholders and we have and always will be committed to the development of our nation,” commented Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

“This is the second consecutive year to have been selected amongst the 10 most admired companies in Sri Lanka. With over 150 years of business experience in not just Sri Lanka but also internationally, we will continue to raise the benchmarks to excel through sustainable value creation. I wholeheartedly thank the organisers ICC Sri Lanka and CIMA Sri Lanka, and all our stakeholders that have contributed to this end,” he added further.

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. The Company is empowered by a team of over 14,000 individuals, with a geographical presence in 8 countries and growing, creating opportunities for Sri Lanka across new frontiers.

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

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

 

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.