Tag Archives: Sustainability

Aitken Spence Hotels Leads in Sustainability Reporting

1 Mar

Aitkin Spence Hotels were once again recognized for its commitment to sustainability at the recently concluded ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards, where it emerged victorious in the Leisure & Services sector. The new format for the awards identified winners in six industry sectors. In the past Aitken Spence Hotels have emerged winners in the medium scale category.


ACCA has been a leading voice in promoting environmental, social and governance reporting for businesses as a fundamental part of mapping their impacts beyond traditional financial accounting practices. This year once again ACCA has recognized and rewarded companies that have taken an active role in providing viable solutions to the sustainability challenges faced by our planet. 


Aitken Spence Hotels over the years has been dedicated to preserve and sustain the natural resources and also manage the impact of tourism on local communities through the adoption of sustainable practices. The award highlights the importance Aitken Spence Hotels gives to sustainability, transparency and accountability while providing a clear indication of the company’s commitment to report its economic, social and environmental impacts.

“Our goal is to incorporate the values and principles of sustainable development into our business. Being repeatedly recognized by ACCA for best in class sustainability reporting is an affirmation that we are on the correct path. We believe that sustainability is the only way forward in the tourism industry, we need to be able to protect the natural attractions, resources and culture that differentiates Sri Lanka as a unique destination”, said Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels. 


Aitken Spence Hotels manages a portfolio of hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka, Maldives, India and Oman. The company’s expertise in hotel design, building and management is complimented by its dedication and commitment to excellence. Located in some of the key tourist locations, each of the properties cater to a diverse clientele.


ImageMr.Tilak Gunawardana, Vice President, Finance accepting the award



Group image of Aitken Spence Hotels Team at the Award Ceremony


Aitken Spence Launches Empowering Sri Lanka First

26 Jul

Aitken Spence PLC has launched Empowering Sri Lanka First, an English and IT teaching programme for children from its neighbouring communities as its flagship corporate community engagement initiative. The leading diversified conglomerate commenced the pilot phase of the English programme benefiting 180 students in Dambulla, Ahungalla and Mawaramandiya in May.

The eight-year old students follow a globally recognised British Council syllabus combined with accompanying teaching material delivered by local teachers who have completed British Council conducted teacher training.

Aitken Spence was recognized as Sri Lanka’s Best Corporate Citizen for 2012 by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

“With a leading presence in some of Sri Lanka’s key sectors, Aitken Spence has over the years engaged in numerous programmes to enrich the lives of our neighbouring communities across the island. Empowering Sri Lanka First is intended to add more focus to our community engagements by concentrating on two key enablers for young students to achieve their true potential, thereby contributing to the sustainable development of the communities in which we operate”, said J M S Brito, Deputy Chairman & Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

“Our plan is to expand the programme to dozens of local communities within a few years with the support of our many international and local partners who enjoy longstanding relationships with Aitken Spence”, he added.

The Company’s unique model enrols students for a three-year programme to learn the English language and information technology during weekly classes conducted at each locality. Aitken Spence plans to launch the IT module in September this year at all three locations.

“The curriculum followed is one that will complement the national syllabus and meant to make the process of learning more fun and interactive so that the students will be encouraged to keep learning by themselves even after they graduate from the programme”, said Rohan Pandithakorralage, Director and Chief Human Resources Officer of Aitken Spence Group Ltd.

Teachers for the programme are recruited from the same communities and trained on the curriculum so that they can use and benefit from the new teaching methods in their own careers and create more value for the learning process of more students in these communities.

Aitken Spence is among Sri Lanka’s leading and most respected corporate entities with operations in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific. In Sri Lanka, it is an industry leader in hotels, travel, maritime services, logistics, power generation and printing, with a significant presence in plantations, financial services, insurance, information technology and apparel.

Aitken Spence Hotels Tops Sustainability Reporting Awards Again

15 Feb

Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC. was adjudged the winner in the Medium Scale Category for the second consecutive year at the ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards and once again joins the ranks of being one of the most transparent companies in the region.

The awards evaluates companies’ sustainability reporting under the categories of completeness in scope & coverage, credibility and communication. Reports are evaluated by an eminent independent judging panel consisting of experts in the field of sustainability and environmental reporting disclosures.   

Organised by ACCA Sri Lanka for the eighth year the grand award ceremony was held on February 14th in Colombo under the aegis of Chief Guest, Diarietou Gaye, Country Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives – The World Bank, while the Guest of Honour for the event was Lucia Real-Martin, ACCA Director, Emerging Markets – Asia.

This win highlights the importance Aitken Spence Hotels gives to sustainability, transparency and accountability and provides a clear indication that the company’s ongoing commitment to report on its economic, social and environmental impacts.

 “We are delighted to have been adjudged the winner in the medium scale category once again.  This commendation reflects Aitken Spence Hotels’ track record of commitment to corporate accountability and championing sustainable tourism by producing industry best practices.Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is currently experiencing a boom and has been identified by many of the prominent international hotel chains as a sought after destination.  As a country we need to be focused on positioningSri Lankaas a sustainable tourism destination in order to attract the premium brands which will in turn help positionSri Lankaas an up-market destination. This repositioning will bring vast benefits to the country’s economy and its people”, said Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels.

The ACCA Sustainability Reporting awards is held in over 30 countries and is based on judging guidelines established by ACCA worldwide. It is open to any type of organization encompassing all business sizes. The ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards are already functional inAustralia,Canada,Hong Kong,Ireland,Malaysia,New Zealand,Pakistan,Singapore,South Africa,Sri Lanka, theUKand theUSAwith similar awards, largely based on the ACCA criteria, existing inBelgium,Denmark,Finland,France,Germany,Holland,Italy,Luxembourg,Norway,Portugal,Spain,SwedenandSwitzerland.

Aitken Spence Hotels located in strategic locations inSri Lanka,India,MaldivesandOmancaters to a diverse market segment and is famed for its stellar service, exquisite food and world recognised sustainable practices. Over a period of time the reputation gained has helped to position the chain of hotels as one the best in the region.


Aitken Spence Plantations making a difference in the Plantation sector

26 Jan

At Elpitiya Plantations PLC, sustainability is a part of everyday business. Elpitiya Plantations PLC ensures the sustainable development of our plantation by focusing their efforts on four main areas that encompass this – environmental sustainability, social welfare, early childhood development and infrastructure development.

Environmental sustainability

Elpitiya employs targeted interventions to minimize damage to the environment. One of their major focuses in this particular area is the increasing of the bio diversity of the plantation and thereby the conservation of the environment of the estates.

Aitken Spence Plantations adopts a variety of methods to reduce any soil pollution caused through the use of artificial fertilisers. One such method is site-specific fertilizing which provide only the required nutrients without excessive or blanket use of chemicals. In addition certain select plots also use organic fertilisers in a gradual move to replace chemicals, aiming towards sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural practices. Compost pits are also maintained in the estates with the ambitious goal of eventually being able to replace one round of artificial fertilizers.

Aitken Spence Plantations through Elpitiya Plantations owns and manages a diversified portfolio of crops which includes tea, rubber, oil palm, and cinnamon. However, they are moving away from a monoculture system and are trying to increases the bio-diversity of the estates by implementing a polyculture method of agriculture. A polyculture method is one in which a diverse range of crops are planted in the estates instead of just the one crop (i.e. tea) which drastically reduces the spread of disease and resource depletion.

This would ensure environmental conservation and is a key part of achieving their goal of long term sustainability.

Social sustainability and child development

Elpitiya estates employ 8000 individuals who live and work on the 13 estates under their purview.  At EPP, they ensure that several initiatives are in place to improve the working and living conditions of the staff and their communities.

In light of this, Elpitiya provides health facilities including pre-natal and antenatal clinics on all their estates that also offer free vaccinations and regular medical check-ups. Each of our estates has a medical officer who is responsible for making sure that these programmes function regularly and effectively. In addition, the plantations sector has also made four ambulances available to increase the speed and efficiency with which patients needing hospital treatment can be transported from the estates.

As well as providing treatment and care, Elpitiya Plantations also regularly hosts seminars for the workforce to create awareness and preventative methods for alcoholism, HIV/AIDS & other sexually transmitted diseases among others, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka and Plantation Human Development Trust. Skills development and prevention of alcoholism programmes were conducted for the members of Quality Circles as well as for utilizing the funds granted by the Project for Development Planning aimed at prevention of absenteeism in the plantations.    

At Aitken Spence Plantations we make sure that the children in the estates get every opportunity to reach their potential. To this effect we regularly carry out a series of activities aimed at improving the literacy of estate workers’ children. We have Child Development Centres (similar to day care facilities) in all estates. Last year, a total of Rs. 24 Million was spent to maintain the crèche facilities in all estates. Of course it is always nice to receive positive reinforcement and we were thrilled when our Gulugahakande Child Development Centre was placed first at the all island child development centre competition organized by PHDT, beating 430 other estates.

In addition, Elpitiya Plantations in association with the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation provides educational scholarships to children of estate workers. This includes scholarships to students who have been accepted to university and students who have performed well at their GCE Ordinary Level examinations. Last year, three students qualified to receive scholarships to continue their studies from GCE Ordinary Level to Advanced Level and those qualified to enter university for higher studies were granted scholarships of Rs. 1500 monthly for three years. Currently, there are twenty scholarship recipients.

The secretaries of Aitken Spence with support from the entire group, led by Mrs. Daisy Kunanandham in their special annual project, donated educational and health care utensils for the children of Dunsinane, Sheen, Fernlands and Meddacombra estates. Over 1600 students benefited from these activities.

Sustainability through Infrastructure Development

We collaborated with the Ministry of Livestock & Rural Community Development in a special project to concrete roads in the Nuwara Eliya region. The full length of the roads developed in the Dunsinane, Fernlands and Sheen estates were 32 km at an approximate cost of Rs. 43.5 Million.

In addition, EPP has spent a total of Rs. 55.3 million on developing field rest rooms, water schemes, playgrounds, places of worship, social development centres, re-roofing and rehabilitating internal roads.



Aitken Spence Hotels Helping Planet and People in Partnership with atmosfair Germany

12 Apr

Reaffirming their commitment to combating climate change and doing business in a sustainable manner, Aitken Spence Hotels, the pioneers of biomass energy in the Sri Lankan hospitality industry, recently partnered with atmosfair, Germany, to embark on a venture that will not only reduce the carbon emissions of the hotels but will also strengthen the communities in the areas the hotels are built in.

As an organization that is committed to combating climate change, Aitken Spence Hotels works with an Integrated Sustainability Policy and the choice to work towards helping both the environment and the communities they work was a natural extension.

Biomass was chosen over other forms of renewable energy as it offered the unique opportunity to support the communities they work in as well as to help combat climate change and reduce their environmental footprint.  Speaking on the project Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotels said “Heritance brand is unanimous with unique architecture and living traditions. We have gone as far as possible to be environment friendly and our most significant effort in this area is the decision to supplement hotel’s climate change mitigation actions by replacing non-renewable fossil fuel with bio mass.  We decided to opt for bio mass against other renewable energy options so that we can extend the benefits to the local communities”.

The partnership between Aitken Spence Hotels and atmosfair will spread its benefits to around 400 farmers and their families in the rural areas where the hotels operate, by helping them generate income from their barren and unfarmed lands. The project focuses on using regenerated wood supplied by the farmers to generate energy, thereby ensuring that no existing farm or forest land will be depleted as a result. Farmers will be provided with an incentive after they go through an identification and screening process to ascertain eligibility.

Commenting on the initiative Executive Director of atmosfair, Dr. Dietrich Brockhagen said that “This development shows the leadership of the private sector in combating climate change in Sri Lanka. The project carried out in close cooperation of Aitken Spence and atmosfair demonstrates that entrepreneurship and environmental protection can foster each other for the benefit of all.”

The use of biomass has many fringe benefits as well. The cultivation of Gliricidia, which is used to generate energy, helps convert land that is lying fallow or barren into fertile lands once again. The reduction in the use of diesel has the double benefit of being more environmentally friendly and also saving the country’s foreign exchange, which would otherwise be spent on energy generation.

Renewable energy in the form of biomass was first introduced by Aitken Spence Hotels at the Heritance Tea Factory in 2007. The biomass gassifier plant converts Gliricidia plants into energy that helps run the hotel. The Heritance Kandalama followed suit, with the biomass gassifier plant replaced auto diesel. Through this project in the two hotels a total reduction of 750 tons of CO2 emissions was achieved, emissions that would otherwise pollute the atmosphere and contribute to climate change and global warming.

atmosfair is an organization that was set up in Germany in 2005 by the German Government Federal Environment Agency and Germanwatch, an environment and development organization to support carbon offsetting across the globe. atmosfair is currently working in Sri Lanka and is partnering with Aitken Spence Hotels on their initiative as it offers the rare combination of helping the planet and the people, two crucial factors in the triple bottom line.

The dedicated CSR programme of Aitken Spence Hotels, the Brighter Futures Foundation will implement the project through the Aitken Spence Charity the Spence Evoluzione  Charitable Trust.

Although possible emissions caps could come into effect on the aviation and hospitality trade in the near future, thanks to their latest endeavor with atmosfair, Aitken Spence Hotels will continue to future proof itself and stay one step ahead of global trends.

Media Release 11-04-2011

Sustainability is the key to tourism development in Sri Lanka

9 Jul

Sustainability is a big buzz word globally, and it is increasingly shaping the way how businesses think and operate. In the travel and tourism sector, which is the largest industry worldwide, sustainability has become a key driver helping market airlines, destinations, hotels & tours.

For us in Sri Lanka, the tourism industry is bringing a whole new world of opportunities for economic development, especially in the rural areas.  Integrated nature of the tourism industry is such that the economic benefits always spread across the entire country, almost all the people. Tourism also helps us to look after our natural & cultural resources.

Aitken Spence Hotels Group has come a very long way in making their hotels sustainable. According to Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director of the Aitken Spence Hotels Management (Pvt) Ltd. which operates Sri Lanka’s largest hotel portfolio, the Group’s sustainability practices have been adopted long before sustainability became fashionable in the international tourism industry. Mr. Hapugoda said “Aitken Spence  has  invested in lot of time and financial resources  over the decades to make our hotels world class case study examples of sustainability. We have found out that our business associates and our guests are keen to learn about the sustainability practices of the hotels than ever before. The unique sustainability features of our hotels are clearly giving us a marketing advantage.  Our expertise gained in sustainability in Sri Lanka is spreading across to our hotels in the Maldives, India & Oman. ”

Sustainable tourism is on the rise in Sri Lanka, with consumer demand growing, travel industry suppliers are developing new green programmes, and the government is encouraging sustainable practices in tourism. But what does “sustainable tourism” really mean? How can it be measured and credibly demonstrated, in order to build consumer confidence, promote efficiency, and fight false claims? Mr Hapugoda emphasizing the importance of credibility & sustainability reporting said, “There are internationally accepted standard guidelines & frameworks for sustainability implementation, evaluation, data collection and reporting.  If Sri Lankan hotels want external parties to recognize their efforts and build credibility it is very important to adopt these guidelines to share information on what they have achieved and disclose information on an universally accepted format”.

The Sustainability reporting framework developed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) complying with  the G3 guidelines and indicator protocols for economic, environment, human rights, labour, product responsibility and societal performance. The report outlines the company’s progress in embedding the ten principles of the United Nations Global Compact and Climate Change mitigation actions.

Media Release – 09 July 2010

Creating Sustainable Value – Deputy Chairman/MD: J M S Brito

15 Jun

The 2009/10 Sustainability Report gives an introduction to our management approach to corporate sustainability and the substantial progress made by the Group and by individual strategic business units’ [SBUs] in employee and community engagement and environmental management.

We live in times of major global challenges, such as climate change, resource scarcity, globalisation, financial crises, shifting centres of power and increasing income inequality. How we face these challenges, now, will fundamentally shape the society, the environment and the economy of the future.

Our endurance and success for over 140 years has been characterized as much by the unswerving integrity in how we conduct our businesses, as much as by the pioneering sprit and the operational excellence that set us apart.

With the launch of the Group’s corporate sustainability policy, this year has marked a leap in how we approach corporate citizenship. Whilst we retain our ethical values fundamental to our business, we have embraced sustainable development with concerted effort to proactively ensure our long-term viability, profitability and integrity. This holistic approach looks beyond issues to address at all aspects of corporate sustainability in order to create sustainable value to our stakeholders.

Conducting initiatives which comprehensively look at how sustainably we do business across our diverse portfolio is not an easy task; but it is something which we have embarked on with the firm conviction that sustainable business is the business of the future.

Aitken Spence is becoming an increasingly global company, that brings with it responsibilities which we are keen to fulfil. We are committed to protect and promote the principles of the United Nations Global Compact. An indication of our progress in embedding the principles is outlined in the index on page 77. We have integrated the Global Reporting Initiative’s [GRI] framework for sustainability reporting at Level C in this report, with the objective of moving to Level B next year.

The company appreciates the leadership and commitment of the Sustainability Team and the respective sustainability committees set up in each SBU in our effort to create sustainable value and a sustainable business.

For more information on Aitken Spence Group sustainability, click here: http://www.aitkenspence.lk/about_us/financial_reports_of_aitken_spence_sri_lanka.asp

Sustainability Report – 15 June 2010

A Capacity To Endure

20 Apr

A discussion with Dr. Rohan Fernando, Director, Head of Business Development & Plantations, Aitken Spence PLC

Sustainability, the carbon footprint and carbon neutrality have become the “buzz words” of business today, but few truly understand the need or the multi-faceted significance of sustainability in today’s business climate. Dr. Rohan Fernando says that the Corporate Sustainability Team champions the need for sustainability in the current global context, adding that “Sustainability is not about doing good; it is about doing good business.”

Whilst most understand the environmental aspect of a sustainable business, many are unaware of the economic and social factors being focused on in a corporate sustainability strategy. In a drive to ensure the long term viability, profitability and integrity of business, the Corporate Sustainability Team in conjunction with the SBUs have taken it upon themselves to build on the strengths of each individual company, guiding the group on the path of corporate sustainability. The team is led by Mr. Ravi De Silva, whose vast experience and knowledge on the topic of sustainability, is consulted on sustainability strategizing and implementation.

Dr. Fernando says that sustainability in business makes the company more competitive, and, therefore, improves the bottom line. Globally, customers, investors, financing institutions, governments and interest groups are increasingly demanding greater levels of transparency in business conduct. Likewise, businesses which embrace corporate sustainability stand to gain with more loyal customers, enhanced business opportunities and mutually beneficial partnerships with key stakeholders. Hence, as a leading conglomerate with a dynamic global outlook it is natural that Aitken Spence builds on its heritage to aggressively pursue a group-wide sustainability strategy.

The diverse activities of the group pose a challenge in itself, for the nature of each company’s business dictates the aspect of sustainability it should adopt. Whilst certain companies, within the group such as Aitken Spence Hotels are able to champion sustainable strategies which have an environmental impact, other companies may decide to champion health and safety, governance, innovation, quality and human resources.

A deep-rooted belief that “As a leading corporate in Sri Lanka, with a global reach, it is our responsibility to maintain sustainable practices,” is one that must be both instilled and cultivated.  Each subsidiary has its own “sustainability representative,” who works in tandem with the Business Development unit to help inform and assist their colleagues in formulating an enduring and practical strategy for continuance, one that is customised to each entity’s separate needs.

The road to sustainability will be neither short, nor easy, but if travelled properly it will most certainly be a rewarding one for Aitken Spence.

Ace Magazine – 2010


22 Mar


Aitken Spence Recognized for Exemplary Corporate Citizenship

12 Dec

Dr. Rohan Fernando receiving the award

Aitken Spence PLC was awarded the 2nd Runner-Up in the overall category at the 6th Annual Best Corporate Citizens Awards organized by the Ceylon Chamber on 10th December 2009. This is the second consecutive year that Aitken Spence has been recognized as among the top corporate citizens in the country.

Aitken Spence also received an award for being among the Top Ten Corporate Citizens.

The Chamber evaluates companies on its performance with regards to the environment, community relations, employee relations, customer/supplier relations, economic contribution and governance.

Awards – 2009