The Jakarta Post
The Sunrise Flower Garden beside Barelang Bridge near Batam in Riau Islands. (Shutterstock/Dwi Yulianto)
The unhealthy air quality Batam has experienced since Tuesday caused by smog from forest fires in Riau and Kalimantan has not affected the arrival of foreign tourists in the city, especially those from Singapore and Malaysia.
The head of the Health Office at the Batam Class I Port, Achmad Farchanny, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that there were no signs of a decrease in the number of passengers traveling on ferries from Singapore and Malaysia despite the unhealthy air quality.
"It is all normal like on regular days; we see no signs of decrease," said Achmad.
A room has been set aside at the International Ferry 5 Port to accommodate travelers who are experiencing health problems caused by the smog.
"Since Tuesday, the air pollution standard index [ISPU] in Batam reached above 100, which is an unhealthy level. It is dangerous for children to play outdoors," Achmad added.
According to AirVisual, Batam's air quality is still at an unhealthy level of 154.
Separately, Batam Tourism Agency head Ardiwinata said he is optimistic that the smog that currently blankets Batam would not affect tourists' enthusiasm to visit the city.
"On average about 5,000 foreign tourists enter Batam every day. Until now the number has not decreased; it even increased a little," he said.
Based on data from the five international ferry ports in Batam, the total visit of foreign tourists per month was 150,000, with the majority from Singapore and Malaysia.
"Some scheduled tourism events are also being held according to plan," Ardiwinata added.
Among the events is the inauguration of the Sultan Mahmud Riayat Syah Grand Mosque on Friday that is expected to attract 2,000 people from Singapore and Malaysia.
"The grand mosque is a religious tourist attraction that we have been preparing for quite a while and we are certain it will be attended by many people," he said. (kes)