Samoa to miss 30 December as it crosses international dateline

Samoa to miss 30 December as it crosses international dateline
Samoa to miss 30 December as it crosses international dateline


Samoans will miss out on an entire day when they country skips 30 December to cross back westwards over the international dateline.

Time on the South Pacific island will jump straight from midnight on 29 December to 31 December - New Year's Eve - in a move that will see trade and tourism boosted with key partners Australia and New Zealand.

The 'time travel' comes 119 years after US traders persuaded local Samoan authorities to transfer to the east side of the date line like nearby US-controlled American Samoa to assist their trading with California, according to the Mirror.

But it has proved problematic because the current time zone puts Samoa a day behind its key trading partners, Australia and New Zealand.

The island, currently 11 hours behind GMT, 21 hours behind Eastern Australia and 23 hours behind New Zealand, will be one hour ahead of Wellington, and three hours ahead of Sydney after the move.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi told the BBC: "In doing business with New Zealand and Australia, we're losing out on two working days a week.

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

The move means that the 775 of Samoa's 186,000 citizens who were born on 30 December will have to celebrate their birthday a day early or a day late, and the same goes for the 43 couples whose wedding anniversary falls tomorrow.

Hotel guests holidaying on the island will not be charged for the night, but local employers will have to pay workers for the day that did not exist.

Tourism-wise, there are arguments for and against the shift; the Prime Minister says it will create "exciting tourism opportunities", adding: "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."

But tourism operators say Samoa will lose its unique selling-point as the last place on Earth to see the sun set, although it will now be the first place to see the sun rise every day.

New Zealand-run territory Tokelau will join Samoa in the change, but American Samoa will stay on the eastern side of the dateline.

The move will be celebrated with prayers, carols, specially-created stamps and a speech from the Prime Minister tonight.

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