Immigration Chief Disobeyed Order Over Hawking Condos

Phnom Penh airport immigration officers continued to hand out advertisements to foreigners going through immigration lines even after the Interior Ministry ordered the airport’s chief officer to stop the practice last year, officials said on Tuesday.

The State Secretariat of Civil Aviation and the airport’s owner, Cambodia Airports, both said on Monday that they, too, had requested Phnom Penh International Airport immigration police chief Chhour Kimny to stop staff from inserting flyers inside the passports of foreigners, but to no avail.

The Interior Ministry asked the chief to stop the guerilla marketing tactic last year, according to Sok Veasna, a director at the Interior Ministry’s general department of immigration.

“We don’t have any contract or anything” with the advertisers, he said on Tuesday. The airport chief—whom Mr. Veasna declined to name—“asked our staff to put in the flyer.”

“This is not what we asked them to do,” Mr. Veasna said, adding that the Interior Ministry would request a report from the chief on why the practice had continued.

Mr. Veasna referred other questions to Kem Sarin, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry’s immigration department. Mr. Sarin identified Mr. Kimny as the airport chief, but said he was unfamiliar with the details of the practice.

On Monday, airport customs officials could still be seen inserting flyers inside the passports of foreigners entering the country advertising Creed Group’s Bodaiju Residences, a Japanese condo development currently under construction opposite the airport on Russian Boulevard.

Representatives from Creed Group did not respond to questions on Tuesday, but on Monday blamed the ads on a third-party marketing firm that it did not name.

Luu Meng, president of Cambodian Hotel Association, said on Monday that visitors had mixed reactions about being given flyers at immigration.

“I got a few guests who stay at my hotel who are quite happy to get that,” he said, adding that a few had even gone out to the showroom. Still, “if you are entering to be a tourist, then you don’t want to read about a housing project.”

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