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Tourism Authority of Thailand

Smoke on a Thai beach? A year in jail

Thailand bans smoking and littering at popular tourist beaches.

Thailand has banned smoking and littering at 24 locations beside and on beaches that are popular with tourists, with immediate effect, the news agency Reuters reports.

Tourism in the Southeast Asian country is booming and tourist numbers are expected to hit a record 37.55 million tourists in 2018.

Thai tourism has come a long way, from attracting millions of backpackers in the early 1990s to its current popularity with tourists from mainland China.

But unregulated development and littering are starting to scar Thailand’s palm-fringed beaches, and environmental groups have been urging the government for years to bring in legislation that better protects areas of natural beauty.

The new law that came into force on February 1 is aimed at tackling this environmental problem, explains Bannaruk Sermthong of the Office of Marine and Coastal Resources Management.

“Smoking and cigarette-butt littering are prohibited on beach areas,” he tells Reuters. “Anyone who wants to smoke must do so in designated smoking areas, not on the beaches.”

Hard punishment
The law does not protect all 357 of Thailand’s beaches, however. Only 24 beaches in 15 provinces are included in the law, located along the Andaman coast and the Gulf of Thailand.

But anyone who violates the law will be taken to a criminal court and could face up to one year in jail, or a fine of up to 100,000 baht (€2,550), or both.

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