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Tuilaepa calls tourism expert just another “idiot”

An Australian marketing expert who has been helping with the development of tourism in Samoa has been described by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malieleigaoi as “one more idiot amongst many.”Mr David Staughton has been involved in the Samoa Tourism Exchange (STE) over the last two years where he advised on how to move Samoan tourism forward.He said the tourism industry in Samoa “is struggling” because it had become “complacent” and “got too comfortable.”In response, Tuilaepa, who is also the Minister of Tourism and the key promoter of casinos in Samoa, is not impressed.He retorted: “That is one more idiot amongst many.”Tuilaepa then offered a comment on the sort of expert advice his government has been helping out with the idea of moving Samoan tourism forward.Said he: “We bring in some good ones and some idiots ones too, because we also want to hear idiots.“Just because he says nasty things about Samoa we should not turn him away. We should all listen to idiots.”Tuilaepa went on to say jokingly this time: “How many times have I had to listen to Tautua?”However it seemed that Tuilaepa was quite satisfied with the progress that Samoa’s tourism industry was making and explained that in “my view it is going great.”He also said: “Tourism is growing in Samoa.“I have been all over the world and there are some hotels that I have seen and services that are offered overseas, and when I compare them to Samoa, there is a lot of improvement here.”Tuilaepa added: “Our services and hotels have improved greatly and they will continue to improve.”When Mr Staughton’sviews on the 500 room resorts and casinos being planned in Samoa were sought, he said:“The hardest thing you have to work out is whether you want to sell your country to the Chinese.“The money or the country? What do you want?”“Do you want the country to be poor and have no money or imagine a Waikiki Chinese version?”Asked which he would choose, he replied: “Not that.”