Friday disappears in Samoa


Samoans went to bed Thursday and woke up on Saturday in a historic timezone switch which the Pacific island state’s prime minister says will take the country forward to a more prosperous future. Samoa previously sat to the east of the International Date Line – which runs through the middle of the Pacific – meaning that it was 11 hours behind GMT and was one of the last places on Earth to see dawn. At midnight Thursday Samoa became, instead one of the first places to experience the new day, omitting Friday December 30 entirely and jumping 24 hours ahead to Saturday as it moves west of the dateline. The move brought the Pacific island nation in line with regional economic powerhouses Australia and New Zealand, both of which are also home to large expatriate Samoan communities. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the move made business sense and offered tourism opportunities.
“We’ve got to remember that over 90 percent of our people emigrate to New Zealand and Australia. That’s why it is absolutely vital to make this change,” he told the Samoa Observer in the countdown to the midnight switch. Prior to this move, Samoa was 23 hours behind Australasia and lost two commercial days a week with its main trading partners. “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,” Tuilaepa said. Speaking from Apia on Thursday to Radio New Zealand – when it was Friday in Wellington – Tuilaepa said the change would also remove the confusion in travel times for tourists who arrive in Samoa and “keep thinking of the New Zealand and Australian time zones”.