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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Thailand stubs out smoking on famous tourist beaches

The ban's introduction coincides with Thailand's peak tourist season and will be enforced in visitor hotspots including Krabi, Koh Samui, Pattaya, Phuket and Phang Nga

Tourists walk along Patong beach on the island of Phuket in southern Thailand on November 30, 2014. Yongyot Pruksarak / EPA
Tourists walk along Patong beach on the island of Phuket in southern Thailand on November 30, 2014. Yongyot Pruksarak / EPA

Smokers who flout a smoking ban on 20 of Thailand's most famous tourist beaches will face a 100,000 baht (Dh11,092) fine or up to a year in prison, Thai authorities have said.

The ban, which comes into force in November, follows a clean-up of nearly 140,000 cigarette butts from a 2.5-kilometre stretch of the famed Patong beach in Phuket island province.

Its introduction coincides with Thailand's peak tourist season and will be enforced in visitor hotspots including Krabi, Koh Samui, Pattaya, Phuket and Phang Nga.

"These beaches are among the most beautiful in South-east Asia, and the aim is to keep them that way," Tourism Authority of Thailand (Tat) governor Yuthasak Supasorn said on Monday.

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Smokers will have to use designated areas with proper waste disposal for cigarette butts, he added.

Those caught lighting up on the beach could face jail or a 100,000 baht fine, according to Tat.

The edict is the latest effort to rein in Thailand's free-wheeling tourism industry.

A crucial pillar of Thailand's economy, the tourism sector caters to more than 30 million travellers per year. But the huge numbers of arrivals have also threatened to spoil some of the country's idyllic beaches, with litter and unchecked development damaging local ecosystems.

Thailand is also trying to crack down on lax safety standards that riddle the tourism industry, after waves of complaints that visitors are overcharged or not adequately protected on boats and jet-skis.