GEORGE TOWN, Sept 21 ― The haze in Penang which was at its worst so far this week, affected the arrival of visitors at one of the state's iconic attractions, Penang Hill.
Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng noted a drop in the number of visitors, during the current off-peak season which normally sees between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors daily.
“On Sept 18, when the air pollution reached very unhealthy levels in Penang, we received about 1,800 visitors, compared to the day before (Sept 17) at around 2,900 visitors, as it was just a day after the long weekend and Malaysia Day,” he said, when contacted by Bernama.
Cheok also said The Habitat, a rainforest attraction featuring a canopy walk, was closed on that day due to the haze, but the funicular train service remained operational as Penang Hill residents still relied on the public transport.
On September 18, Penang island was hit with the worst haze yet, with “very unhealthy” Air Pollution Index (API) levels recorded in Minden (234) and Balik Pulau (263).
The API which is released by the Department of Environment, comprises the following categories: good (0-50), moderate (51-100), unhealthy (101-200), very unhealthy (201-300) and hazardous (301 onwards).
Singaporean Mohd Shajahan said he was reluctant to take his family up Penang Hill, knowing that they would not be able to enjoy the scenic view but his five-year-old son, Affan Shajahan, was so keen on experiencing a ride in the funicular train for the first time.
“We knew we wouldn't be able to get a clear, scenic view of Penang with the haze going on but at least we got to experience what Penang Hill had to offer, such as its cool weather,” he said.
A 53-year-old Penangite known as Hai Hong, said he had not been able to hike for three straight days due to the hazy conditions.
“Normally, I hike five days up Penang Hill with my buddies,” he told Bernama, after braving the bad weather for a solo outing, while his friends had either stayed at home due to health concerns or gone to the Ayer Itam Dam area where the hiking stretch is shorter. ― Bernama