WITH less than three weeks until Thailand enforces a smoking ban at 20 of its most popular beaches, tourism operators now fear the new rules would see visitor numbers would dwindle even further, affecting their businesses.
The kingdom is already seeing a decline in visitors to the beaches in recent years owing to the littered state of the popular spots, and the operators are preparing for the worst as the ban approaches, Pattaya One reported.
Some operators said they were concerned that many visitors and tourists who smoke on the beaches would be caught off guard by the ban and face stern action by the authorities.
With non-smoking signboards yet to be erected and the smoking zones to be designated, one Pattaya beach operator Saranya Yingyortram, 33, said no one from the authorities has come forward to explain the ban.
Other operators fear the authorities could take advantage of unsuspecting tourists.
According to Pattaya One, the beach operators in the resort city are banding together to look out for the well being of tourists, advising them to throw their cigarette butts in the right bins and by smoking in designated areas to avoid getting into trouble with the authorities.
Earlier this week, the Marine and Coastal Resources department said discarded cigarette butts make up about one-third of the rubbish collected on one single beach.
The department found 101,0958 butts along the 2.5km-Patong Beach in Phuket on Sept 9, which translates to about 0.76 butts per square metre.
Department’s director-general Jatuporn Burspat said an estimated 100 million butts were left on the roads in Thailand’s major cities each day, compounding the country’s flood woes by clogging drains.
Jatuporn said the provinces of Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla have agreed to take on the ban on the 20 beaches beginning November.
The beaches included Mae Phim in Rayong; Laem Sing in Chanthaburi; Bang Saen, Pattaya and Tham Pang on Koh Si Chang in Chon Buri; Cha-am in Phetchaburi; Hua Hin and Khao Takiap in Prachuap Khiri Khan; Patong in Phuket, among others.