PATTAYA - Designated smoking zones at Dongtan beach are unpopular with tourists, who are said to be largely ignoring them and unhappy with the ban on lighting up.
Pattaya municipality chose Dongtan beach, near Jomtien, for a pilot of the smoking ban on 24 beaches in 15 provinces announced by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. The ban was enforced on Dec 4.
Two public toilets off the beach behind the deck chair area were designated as smoking zones instead.
But foreign tourists have refused to use them, and the ban on having a puff while seated on their rented chairs has smoke pouring figuratively out of their ears, according one of the concessionaires.
Chatchawal Simmasuk said he and the other chair kiosks at Dongtan cooperated fully with authorities when the ban was enforced. Two toilets at the back of the beach, which according to websites is Thailand's most popular gay beach, were marked as smoking areas.
Whenever they saw a tourist smoking while in one of their chairs they went over to them, said it was prohibited on the beach and asked that they instead use the designated areas. Many tourists became upset on being told what they must do, Mr Chatchawal said.
Some even said they would never return to Dongtan beach if they were not allowed to smoke while using the chairs they paid for.
Those who were unhappy with the ban were mostly foreigners, because they were accustomed to being able to smoke freely, he said.