Air pollution from the forest fires in Indonesia may have cast a pall over the region, but one business sector has gotten a boost: travel out of Singapore.
A solid chunk of Singapore's residents looked to escape the worst of the air pollution, colloquially called the haze, in September and October. Travel search website Skyscanner said that searches for outbound travel from Singapore climbed gradually from September 4 - when the city-state's air quality levels started approaching an unhealthy level - and by October 23 were more than 50 percent higher.
Hotels.com saw a similar boost. "From September onwards we've seen an increase in outbound travel in Singapore and Indonesia of over 20 percent month-on-month," Abhiram Chowdhry, managing director for Asia-Pacific for the Hotels.com brand, said via email.
Local travel agency Dynasty Travel also said it saw a boost of about 20 percent year-on-year in September and October in number of travelers heading from Singapore to Europe, Australia, New Zealand and China.
That's even though school exams in October may have kept many Singaporeans at home, noted Alicia Seah, a representative for Dynasty Travel. In 2013, when the worst of the haze coincided with school holidays, the haze-related boost to outbound travel was larger, she said.
Even though the haze is an annual event - Indonesians deliberately set rainforests ablaze to clear land, generally to produce palm oil and paper products - a lack of rain and the El Nino weather system has meant the air pollution caused by the fires has been particularly severe and long-lived this year, covering Southeast Asia in air pollution.