Aitken Spence Travels to Bring 20 Charter Flights from Russia this Season

31 Oct

For the second consecutive year, Aitken Spence Travels will be bringing in 20 charter flights from Russia for the annual season. The first charter flight for 2017/18, a Boeing 767 operated by Royal Flight arrived in Sri Lanka on Friday the 27th October carrying 325 tourists from Russia. The charter operation was realized through the longstanding partnership between Coral Travel, a leading travel company in Russia and Aitken Spence Travels, Sri Lanka’s largest travel company. Aitken Spence served an unprecedented 153,000 visitors to Sri Lanka, during its last financial year.

The tourists who arrived on the charter flight were given a warm traditional welcome by presenting the national flower of the country and by a welcome performance by traditional dancers. The charter operation from Russia this year is expected to generate around 30,000 room nights, via a network of 55 hotel partners of Aitken Spence Travels.

“Due to the difficult market conditions last year, the Russian arrivals to the country was not positive. However, Coral Travel has maintained their confidence in the destination by continuing the charter program this year by working with Aitken Spence Travels to operate the Charter. The numbers from the Russian and CIS regions to Aitken Spence Travels has grown by 86% as a result of a very strong promotional campaign carried out by our partners”, said Vice President of Aitken Spence Travels, Darell De Crusz.

Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels Mr. Nalin Jayasundera commented, “This Charter will be operating thrice monthly once again, in cooperation with our longstanding partner – Coral Travels. We must convey our appreciation to the dynamism and the commitment of Coral Travel for believing in Sri Lanka as a destination. Whilst the destination faces many challenges, we believe that strong partnerships fostered over the years and aggressive marketing is the way forward”.

Significantly Coral Travel Celebrated their 25th Anniversary this year and has continued to offer the best resorts and hotels in 35 countries of the world including Sri Lanka. The brand Coral Travel is positioned in the Russian market as a brand of reliability and quality and has had a strong and healthy partnership with Aitken Spence Travels who have been in the DMC business for four decades.

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Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara Achieves Prestigious Travelife Gold Certification

10 Oct

 

The ayurvedic wellness resort, Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara was accoladed with the internationally recommended Travelife for Hotels & Accommodations Gold Certification last week for the hotel’s commitment to sustainability and ethical business practices.

Travelife, the sustainable tourism certification system awarded the prestigious title after carefully assessing the performance of the hotel against 163 sustainability criteria which included environmental issues, such as minimising the amount of energy, waste and water, positive social actions for employee welfare, working with the local community and businesses, child protection and human rights; and protecting local traditions, among others.

Results of the independent audit carried by Travelife showed that Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara, which prides itself for having created a holistic framework aimed at creating a balanced lifestyle experience, have managed to fashion a similar balance in responsibly managing its socio-economic and environmental impacts.

The 64-roomed hotel has long since made a name for itself promoting the importance of wellness in ones’ life and curating a tourism product to cater to this growing trend in the world market. The Travelife certification as such adds immense value to the resort and the very essence of the business model it follows. The certification scheme works in partnership with tour operators, both in the UK and internationally, who use the system to increase sustainability in the industry and communicate achievements to customers.

Among the hotels’ many sustainability exercises, the net metered solar PV in electricity generation takes precedence. Recognised as the first hotel in Sri Lanka to adapt to this system, Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara has benefited immensely from this system which produces energy to cover the majority of its consumption needs. The biogas plant at the hotel also successfully contribute to the hotel kitchen as a supplementary to LNG.

While continuous monthly beach clean ups are conducted in support of the environment, the arts and crafts centre located within the premises aims at creating an awareness on local culture and inherent crafts that have been passed on from one generation to another. Uplifting the indigenous arts culture of the country, the hotel encourages local artisans to demonstrate their art at the centre. The hotel also practices the 7R principles followed by all Aitken Spence Hotels with the aim of reaching zero waste to land fill status and possess the certification of ISO 50001:2011.

This is the second consecutive recertification of Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara as a Travelife Gold member.

Other Aitken Spence Hotels in Sri Lanka – Heritance Kandalama, Heritance Tea Factory, Heritance Ahungalla – were also Travelife Gold certified and are awaiting the recertification for the second time.

Aitken Spence Travels Nurtures Tourism Best Practices with Communities

27 Sep

 

Aitken Spence Travels partnered with the staff of Turyaa Kalutara and the local community an environmental and professional empowerment programme, recently.

Aitken Spence Travels conducted an educational workshop to local community members whose livelihoods depended on tourism. The workshop covered topics such as, how to interact with tourists, how to be a professional service provider and how to conserve the environment that contributes to their profession and the industry. The key facilitator for the programme was Mr. Palitha Pushpa Kumara – Asst. Director for Tourism Development and Community Relations, of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

As a part of the engagement, Aitken Spence Travels and Turyaa Kalutara resort staff joined the local community in a beach cleaning exercise on the Kalutara beach recently which coincided with the International Ozone Conservation Day on the 16th of September.

Sri Lanka’s largest travel company, Aitken Spence Travels is a joint venture between leading conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC and TUI, the world’s number one integrated tourism company. It served an unprecedented 153,000 visitors to Sri Lanka, during its last financial year.

Commenting on this program Chief Operating Officer Aitken Spence Travels Mr. Tikiri Ellapola stated, “We believe this program will be the beginning of a positive relationship in engaging the community in a different way going beyond our core business objectives of being a Destination Management Company. As Sri Lanka’s number 1 DMC we will be the bridge between the Hotel and the area community to develop sustainable programs that are marketable with overseas agents. This way the community will be engaged in an organised manner to achieve a common objective. We are thankful to the SLTDA’s Asst. Director of Community Relations for sharing his expertise and time with us”.

With a legacy of expanding Sri Lanka’s tourism presence beyond traditional markets and producing some the most respected professionals in the industry, Aitken Spence Travels is the only travel company in Sri Lanka to win the Presidential Award for the Best destination management company & professional conference organizer for three consecutive years and to enter the Hall of Fame.

Winner of many PATA gold awards including the Most Innovative Excursion award in 2014, Aitken Spence Travels was the first DMC to obtain ISO 9001:2008. The company’s operations conform to ISO 14001:2015 environmental standards while being certified Carbon Neutral.

Aitken Spence Travels’ core business of consists of handling inbound tour operations to Sri Lanka consisting of mainstream tour operations, excursions, cruise handling, nature & adventure, sports, MICE, online and luxury and luxury segments.  Its outbound travel division provides holiday packages while representing leading brands such as Carlson Wagonlit, Rail Europe and Emirates Holidays.

Stasshani Jayawardena Recognised for Hospitality Sector Leadership

24 Jul

 

Stasshani Jayawardena, Director of Aitken Spence PLC and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotel Managements (Pvt) Limited was recently awarded the Hotel & Hospitality sector Gold award at the Top 50 Professional & Career Women Awards organised by the Women in Management (WIM) in partnership with IFS, a member of the World Bank Group.

Ms. Jayawardena is overall responsible for the tourism sector of Aitken Spence that includes hotels, destination management and overseas travel. She leads a team of international professionals in strengthening the service foundations and formulating a strategic road map for the group’s tourism sector.

Launched in March 2011 by WIM, the Professional & Career Women Awards’ celebrates the achievements of remarkable women who inspire those around them either through media, through their achievements in their careers, businesses and everyday lives.

A graduate of St. James’ & Lucie Clayton College and Keele University in the United Kingdom, Ms. Jayawardena was the youngest intern to work under then US Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton and the Former US President Bill Clinton in 2003. She is the EY NextGen Club’s Ambassador for Sri Lanka.

Ms. Jayawardena is the Chairperson of Splendor Media, a leading advertising and communication company. She is also a Director at Aitken Spence Aviation (Pvt) Ltd, Stassen Group of Companies and EcoCorp Asia (Pvt) Ltd.

Cuurate a lifestyle brand with its first venture in high-end hospitality is the most recent assignment that Ms. Jayawardena heads as its Founder and Chairperson.

AITKEN SPENCE PLC POSTS A 38% GROWTH IN PBT TO RS. 5.2 BN in 2016/17

27 May

 

 

 

 

Deshamanya D.H.S. Jayawardena- Chairman of Aitken Spence PLC.

 

 

 

 

Mr. J.M.S. Brito – Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

 

Aitken Spence PLC recorded a 38% rise in its profit before tax year-on-year with a top line of Rs. 45.9 billion for the year ended on the 31st of March. The conglomerate concluded the reporting period with a strong fourth quarter performance during which both revenue and PBT figures showed strong growth trajectories.

The holding company’s revenue growth reflected across all key operational sectors including tourism, maritime and logistics, strategic investments and services. The mid to long term strategic investments made by the group in preceding years performed well in spite of challenging market conditions.

The tourism sector recorded a growth of 32% in revenue to RS. 24 billion, while the maritime and logistics, and services sectors reported revenues of RS. 9.9 billion and RS. 1.7 billion respectively, indicating a growth of 20% and 43% respectively over the year.

Commenting on the Group’s inclination towards making mid to long term investments, Deshamanya D.H.S Jayawardena, Chairman of Aitken Spence PLC stated, “we have been quick to identify new investment opportunities where we can diversify to remain relevant in the present business context. Catalysed by our investment model, we seek strategic partnerships with global partners that would provide a competitive edge in the markets we intend to serve. At present, we have identified Tourism and Maritime and Logistics as key growth sectors, and have made significant strides in the current financial year to expand the Group’s footprint in these selected business domains.”

Aitken Spence PLC reported a profit attributable to shareholders of RS. 2.9 billion, a rise of 43% while earnings per share also rose by 43% to RS. 7.12

The global and local market conditions have remained less than favourable, with slow market growth impacting many of the operational sectors Aitken Spence PLC is engaged in.

Furthering its commitment towards making key strategic investments, the Group invested RS. 5.8 billion in acquiring property, plant and equipment. Investments made in prospective verticals are expected make returns in the medium to long term.

“Despite challenges faced from external factors by some of the key sectors, the Group had a commendable year of performance.  Over the years we have invested to build robust businesses underpinned by strong fundamentals. Our presence in diverse sectors has been the cornerstone of Aitken Spence PLC’s success, cushioning the Group during times of economic adversity. In the year under review, we switched gears and accelerated the pace to reach the next phase of our growth agenda. Uncertainty becoming the new normal for many of our businesses, our purpose for the year was not to be distracted by it, but rather look for opportunities that would take the Group to new heights,” commented Mr. J.M.S Brito.

Listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983, 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.

Aitken Spence Partnered with Thalassemia Foundation of Sri Lanka to Raise Awareness of Thalassemia Disease

8 May

Aitken Spence partnered with Thalassemia Foundation of Sri Lanka to raise awareness of Thalassemia disease through a walk which was conducted in Colombo on Saturday 06th of May. Aitken Spence employees across Sri Lanka and highest level of management together with supporters of Thalassemia Foundation marched from Aitken Spence premises in Vauxhall Street to Independence Square.

The walk raised awareness and funds to the Thalassemia Foundation of Sri Lanka. Aitken Spence has remained committed towards carrying out meaningful CSR initiatives for the benefit of the communities throughout the island.

Thalassemia is a genetic blood disorder, occurring throughout the island, in which haemoglobin, the main protein of the red blood cell, is not produced in sufficient quantities. Although babies affected by Thalassemia are apparently healthy at birth, severe life-threatening anaemia becomes apparent at the age of about six months. Thereafter, most require monthly blood transfusions. In most children, without transfusion, death occurs in the first few years of life.

With a strong presence in almost every key sector of the local economy, Aitken Spence has continued to maintain strong nurturing ties with the people in the communities surrounding its island-wide operation and the Thalassemia Walk is one such endeavour. Widely recognized as one of the most diversified conglomerates in the country, the company remains committed to taking an active interest in the wellbeing of its many stakeholders.

Aitken Spence Travels Wins ‘Best in Class’ Award at Interactive Media Awards

22 Feb

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Aitken Spence Travels received the ‘Best in Class’ award presented by the Interactive Media Awards (IMA) for its revamped Aitken Spence Holidays website in the Travel and Tourism category. The ‘Best in Class’ award is the highest honour awarded by the IMA for excellence in planning, execution and overall professionalism. In order to achieve this award, the website passed through a comprehensive judging process, excelling in each of the judging criterion. The laurel is presented to very few websites each year for meeting the required mark.

The Aitken Spence Holidays unit is the Outbound operation of Aitken Spence Travels that provides a comprehensive set of services related to its Sri Lankan travellers. The service portfolio offered by Aitken Spence Travels Holidays unit consists of Issuing of Air Tickets, Assistance in obtaining visas, Assistance in obtaining new passports, Renewals, Holiday and business packages to exotic destinations, Pilgrim tours to Dambadiva and Holy land, Tours to global trade fairs, Special packages for Sports events & Musical concerts, Cruise packages, Overseas hotel accommodation, Rail tickets on Rail Europe,  Issuance of Currency & Travel Cards, Airport Drop & Pick up, Travel Insurance and Emirates holidays packages.

The role of Aitken Spence Travels has evolved to an organisation with almost 40 years of service to the Sri Lankan traveller and has some of the leading business organisations entrusting their travel needs and services through the company.

‘The Interactive Media Awards is an open competitive platform targeted at felicitating individuals and organizations involved in designing, developing, managing, supporting and promoting websites. The awards are judged by an independent committee appointed by Interactive Media Council Inc. (IMC), the hosting organization of this award’ stated Rajitha Dahanayake CEO of E Marketing Eye the company responsible for the revamp of the Aitken Spence Holidays web site.

“We pride ourselves on the ability to understand our customers and cater to their exact requirements in the most customer-centric way. In recent years, it has become clear that digital is a necessary medium by which to engage customers and we have wholeheartedly strengthened our efforts in that area. We are ever prepared to offer our customers an avenue to discover new destinations, personalise it and offer new ideas to make travel plans.” commented Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director – Aitken Spence Travels.

Aitken Spence 9-Month Net Profit Grows by 17%

14 Feb

 

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Aitken Spence PLC recorded a strong financial performance closing the immediate 9-month period with a 9.9% year-on-year growth in profits before tax amounting to Rs. 2.9 billion, and a 17% growth in profit attributable to shareholders. The growth is attributed to  strong financial performances posted by a number of key operational sectors in the reporting period.

Bringing to fruition the long term investment strategy adopted by the diversified group, many of the key industry segments operated by Aitken Spence showed positive growth trends in the 9-month period that drew to a close on the 31st of December 2016. The top line for the same period grew by 69% to a figure of Rs. 30 billion while earnings per share rose by 17% to Rs. 4.09.

The company achieved a 28% growth in profit before tax in the third quarter amounting to Rs. 1.4 billion. Earnings per share rose by 36% in the quarterly period amounting to Rs. 2.14 per share. Profit attributed to equity holders also rose by 36% to Rs. 870 million year-on-year, for the quarter.

Listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983, Aitken Spence is a blue chip conglomerate with a strong regional presence in the Hotels, Travels, Maritime Services, Logistics, Plantations, Power Generation, Printing, Insurance, IT, Outsourcing and Apparel.

Maritime and Logistics, Services and Strategic Investments sectors all showed positive growth figures contributing to the bottom line gain experienced during the reporting period. Growth in the Strategic Investments sector was driven by power generation, plantations and printing segments while the elevator agency segment helped the Services sector performance. Maritime & Logistics sector benefited from growth in the port management services and education segments and the addition of a new freight forwarding representation.

Unfavourable market conditions in foreign markets, particularly the Maldives and India, and the high costs of finance have negatively contributed towards a challenging period for the tourism sector, despite top line growth. The addition of RIU Sri Lanka in Ahungalla, Al Falaj Hotel (Oman), Turyaa Chennai and the new wing of Turyaa Kalutara contributed to the rise in revenue.

“We have seen growth in revenue, and more significantly contributions from some of our new investments to the top line of the Group which is a healthy indicator of the performance of those investments in my view. Most of the [Group’s] key sectors have experienced positive growth in the third quarter. We are also confident that the tourism sector will rebound across the various geographical markets and that the new investments we made will continue to pay off in the coming years”, commented Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC, J M S Brito.

Aitken Spence Elevators Awarded ISO 9001: 2008 Quality Management Systems Certificate

13 Feb

 

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Aitken Spence Elevators, the sole distributor of OTIS elevators & escalators in Sri Lanka, was recently awarded the ISO 9001:2008 certification for its Quality Management System (QMS) by SGS Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. This certification covers Sales, Marketing, Installation, Testing, Commissioning and Maintenance functions of OTIS elevators, escalators and travelators.

The company’s QMS was established with the aim of satisfying its customers beyond their expectations through continuous improvement. Its vision is to elevate the company to be the leading elevator and escalator supplier in Sri Lanka. The focus was also on developing a motivated and committed team to introduce emerging technologies to the market and ensure safety, quality and reliability of its products and services.
Surendar Mariappan, Joint Managing Director of Aitken Spence Elevators said the ISO quality certificate is an important landmark in the company’s evolution and a testimony to the high standards of service which they adhere to.
The ISO 9001 certification is provided to organizations that are able to demonstrate its Quality Management System has the robust ability to consistently fulfill customer requirements as well as statutory needs. ISO 9001 certification also proves that the organization is committed towards continually enhancing customer satisfaction through the application of the management system with processes in place for non-conformance management and improvement.
Aitken Spence Elevators has inculcated an open culture for more productive workplace interactions, whilst building stronger bonds with its customers base. Further, its team has committed towards delighting customers by effectively delivering the company’s brand promise and end-to-end solutions in vertical transportation.
“Our commitment towards continuous improvement and quality management is a key factor contributing to all aspects of our operation. This certification is a milestone of achieving the highest levels of compliance and standardization for the benefit of our customer base who continues to place their faith in us. We hope to perpetuate the movement towards ensuring uncompromising quality at all levels and aspects” said the Joint Managing Director of Elevators.

Aitken Spence Printing Walks Away With Gold at National Business Excellence Awards

13 Feb

 

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The export arm of Aitken Spence Printing and Packaging – ACE Exports was awarded at the National Business Excellence Awards 2016 in recognition of its overall business excellence and contribution made towards economic progression of the country. The awards ceremony hosted by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) saw the Gold Award for the Printing and Related Services category being awarded to ACE Exports.

“Being awarded the Gold Award is a proud achievement for us and is due recognition for the untiring efforts our team puts into continuously providing high quality services for our client base. With this achievement we are able to occupy the status of being the ‘best in class printer’ in the Sri Lankan printing industry,” commented Prasanna Karunathilake, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Printing.

Committed towards delivering service driven, value oriented, innovative and sustainable printing and packaging solutions for all stakeholders, Aitken Spence Printing is poised for growth with an ever expanding customer base and best practices in printing and related services.

“It is indeed an honour for the excellent work of our team members. It also feels great to be recognized for our efforts in global engagement, business and financial performance, capacity building, sustainability initiatives, performance management, corporate governance, manufacturing excellence, best practices and set benchmarks in the industry”, added Mr. Karunathilake.

The laurel is dedicated towards the many stakeholders whose invaluable contributions have continued to grow the Aitken Spence Printing brand from strength to strength over the years and whose interests are closely aligned with the company’s vision for excellence in the future.