Sat, 09 Dec 2000

Mount Bromo reopened to tourists

SURABAYA, East Java (JP): The local administration here reopened the foothills of Mount Bromo to the general public on Friday after they had been declared off-limits for the past week due to ash emissions spewing from the volcano's crater.

The 2,392-meter high mountain, located on a sand plateau of the Tengger mountain range and part of the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, has been closed to tourists since Nov. 29.

"The emissions have declined so the air is cleaner and the scenery more visible. Tourists can now visit here again to see the beautiful scenery," said the head of the East Java Tourism Agency, I Wayan Yona, after meeting Governor Imam Utomo.

"The mountain still spews ash once in a while but it's not dangerous. Some tourists even find it interesting and challenging," he said.

Tourists who would like to enjoy the sunrise, he added, can ascend the mountain along the usual track through the Pananjakan area which has been declared safe.

"The crater area is still closed, though, because we're worried that it'll still be dangerous to go too close," Wayan added.

The recent volcanic activity and closure of the area, Wayan said, has reduced the income of local residents who rely on tourism.

For example, tourist admission fees to the area fell last weekend from the usual average of Rp 2.5 million (US$263) to just Rp 97,000.

Mt. Bromo, which is widely known as a tourist attraction, last spewed out ash on March 3, 1995.

There is no official registration of population in the Tengger mountain area, but, according to national park data, there are over 128,000 people living on the 58,800 hectares of the Bromo National Park. Most of them are farmers.

They live in groups in the hills of the Tengger and Semeru mountains at altitudes of between 1,000 meters and 3,676 meters. (nur/hdn)