Haze fails to cast pall on year-end travel plans

The Singapore city skyline at 6pm when the three-hour PSI reading hit 217. Travellers to the region have come to expect haze during this period. Travel agents also say many Singaporeans tend to choose farther destinations for their year-end holidays,
The Singapore city skyline at 6pm when the three-hour PSI reading hit 217. Travellers to the region have come to expect haze during this period. Travel agents also say many Singaporeans tend to choose farther destinations for their year-end holidays, so the haze is not a big consideration.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The haze is not affecting the holiday plans of Singaporeans, travel agents have told The Straits Times.

Because many tend to choose far-off destinations such as Japan and Europe for their year-end holidays, as they usually take a longer break from work, the haze is not a significant consideration.

Smoke caused by the burning of forests and peatland in Kalimantan and Sumatra has shrouded the region in haze in recent months.

Meanwhile those who have already booked trips to affected parts of Indonesia, Malaysia and Southern Thailand are going ahead as planned.

Travellers to the region have also come to expect haze during this period, as it is an annual occurrence.

A spokesman for Chan Brothers Travel said: "Immediate impact on tourism may be difficult to ascertain as travel decisions generally take longer to make.

"For both inbound and outbound tours, we will closely monitor the local situation."

Hong Thai Travel said most of its passengers who booked trips to the haze-affected countries are optimistic that their plans will not be disrupted.

On Tuesday, budget airline Tigerair cancelled a flight to Langkawi due to poor visibility for landing, while Jetstar cancelled two flights to Penang on Thursday.

On Sept 29, ferry services between Singapore and the Indonesian island of Batam stopped for three hours in the afternoon due to the haze.

Singaporean Mark Ho, 33, who was stuck in Langkawi for two days after the Tigerair flight was cancelled, said: "I didn't know Langkawi was affected by haze, I found out only when I landed last Friday. Next time, I will find out in detail how badly affected it is by the haze before going."

Mr Ho, an oil and gas operations executive, had to take two days of emergency leave from work as he reached Singapore only on Thursday morning, after taking a three-hour ferry to Penang and a 10-hour bus ride back.

"I could've flown to Europe in that time," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2015, with the headline 'Haze fails to cast pall on year-end travel plans'. Print Edition | Subscribe