Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Samoa leaps ahead with date change

The island nation of Samoa will jump forward in time by one day (PA)

The South Pacific island nation of Samoa has announced it will jump forward in time by one day by switching to the west side of the international dateline - 119 years after it moved the other way in a bid to boost its trade and economy.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi cited the same reasons for shifting back, saying moving forward a day will make doing business with key partners Australia and New Zealand "far, far easier and more convenient".

The move will see the independent Polynesian nation share the same date and a similar time as its Pacific neighbours, including Australia and New Zealand.

Samoa and neighbouring American Samoa lay west of the international dateline until 1892, when a US business trader convinced both to switch to the east, moving back to the previous day's date. Samoa has long marketed itself as the last place on earth to see the sun each day.

"A local trader lobbied successfully for the change as it was convenient for trading ships from Europe and the United States that were servicing Samoa at the time," Mr Tuilaepa said.

"But our trading partners have dramatically changed since, and today we do a lot more business with New Zealand and Australia, China and Pacific Rim countries such as Singapore."

He said Samoa is currently losing out on two working days a week doing business with New Zealand and Australia.

"While it's Friday here, it's Saturday in New Zealand, and when we're at church Sunday, they're already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane," he said.

The shift will put the dateline between Samoa and American Samoa, a US territory, but Mr Tuilaepa said that would create "exciting tourism opportunities."

"You can have two birthdays, two weddings and two wedding anniversaries on the same date - on separate days - in less than an hour's flight across, without leaving the Samoan chain," he said.

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