Singapore businesses rue lost custom due to haze

Singapore’s Marine Parade is shrouded in haze in this photo from June, 2013. Every year the region is hit by haze cause by agricultural burning in Indonesia. Photo: Wolcott/Wikimedia Commons.

Some businesses and tourist attractions in Singapore are planning holiday discounts and promotions that they hope will make up for losses incurred due to the recent haze.

Business owners told local media that the haze, caused by large-scale agricultural burning in Indonesia, has put a substantial dent in takings.

The chairman of the Association of Singapore Attractions, Kevin Cheong, said 49 of its members were “affected in some way or another by the haze”, which affects visibility and leads to an increase in respiratory problems, keeping more people at home.

His own attraction, the adventure park 4D AdventureLand on the island resort of Sentosa, has seen a reduction in the number of visitors of around 12 per cent, from around 1,300 to 1,150 per day.

He will be holding promotions to get visitors back and meeting representatives from the Singapore Tourism Board to discuss the problem.

“I’m thinking we could team up to hold a post-haze festival or offer joint promotions during the December holidays,” he said.

“We want to get people out of their homes again. The last two months of the year are our peak business period.”

Wendy Leong, general manager of bus tour company City Tours, which operates open- top bus tours around the island, said custom was down 8 per cent in September compared with the same month last year.

“Now that the PSI [Pollutant Standards Index] is lower, we want to have promotions to encourage locals and tourists to do what they normally do at the end of the year. We don’t want them to avoid the outdoors anymore,” she said.

“The fear is that they won’t return at the year end.”

Leong said she is still finalising plans to attract customers back, including perks such free rides and gifts for riders.

Shopping malls are also taking steps to combat the haze.

Jason Loy, Singapore’s head of operations at mall developer CapitaLand Mall Asia, said it is testing plastic-covered walkways “with air filtration capability to keep out haze particles” in front of the automatic sliding doors at three of its malls on the island.