The Jakarta Post
The management of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS) in East Java says it will implement a car ban for a month around the Tengger Caldera beginning on Jan. 24.
With the policy, motorized vehicles will not be allowed to enter the caldera area, which consists of five volcanoes including Mount Bromo, Laut Pasir (sea of sand) and the savanna surrounding the mountains.
Vehicles may only be parked at four entrance gates: Coban Trisula in Malang regency, Jemplang in Lumajang, Cemorolawang in Probolinggo and Mount Penanjakan resort in Pasuruan.
Park management head John Kenedie said the policy was imposed to honor Wulan Kepitu, or the seventh month according to the Tengger community's calendar, a month considered sacred by the elder members of the community.
"They fast for the whole month to control their worldly behavior or characters and approach closer to God," John said at the TNBTS office in Malang on Wednesday.
He said the policy was based on an agreement between tour operators, related government institutions and Tengger community leaders.
Tourists can still visit Laut Pasir, Mt. Bromo, the savanna and the surroundings by horse, bicycle or on foot.
"Motorized vehicles can only be used for emergency or patrol purposes," he said.
The car ban, which will be implemented for the first time this year, is part of conservation efforts by the park management and a way to preserve Tengger community customs. It is expected to be scheduled annually.
Suromulyo, a local jeep driver offering tours in the area, said he would obey the policy out of respect for local customs but he was worried that the program would reduce the number of tourists visiting the area.
"Many of our guests canceled their trips when we informed them about the policy," he said.