Samoa Date Change – a gutsy call

International Date Line

Word is that Samoa may ** WILL change it’s date to align with it’s two biggest trading partners, New Zealand and Australia. If true (I don’t have any inside knowledge but my take from the news that this is most likely [NOW CONFIRMED]) then this would be a another gutsy call by the PM, and major international news.

According to Samoa Observer journalist Aigaletaule’ale’ā F. Tauafiafi, the Prime Minister says that there appears to be overwhelming reasons for a time zone change. He will elaborate further on the issue in the near future.

My take is that there are many more and bigger plusses than a few negatives for the possible change.

Samoa would put it’s date FORWARD one day, and simply lose a day . . . gone, forever. In doing so it would align with New Zealand, and Australia and a lot of the rest of the South Pacific, including some of Asia. Unless American Samoa was convinced to join with Samoa (possible but I think a little more improbable) the dateline would slip back to between Samoa and American Samoa.

The biggest plus for Samoa would be that business people, family, friends and travellers from New Zealand and Australia would share the same day of the week. At the moment a Sunday in Samoa is a Monday in New Zealand. A Friday in Samoa is a Saturday in New Zealand. Flying from AUCKLAND to APIA on a Monday afternoon, you arrive Sunday evening. Flying from APIA on Monday morning gets you to AUCKLAND Tuesday afternoon.

Except for seasoned travelers, this is all just a big bad unnecessary mental challenge to cope with for all visitors. Even Samoans must mentally calculate the date difference every time an interaction is planned – phone calls, plane flights and emails, business and personal communications all incur extra mental gymnastics.

I would hate to think how many mistakes occurred and what extra costs have been incurred through the dateline crossover. I’ve been doing it for over 18 months and have got used to it but it still is a challenge to me. Many of our friends and clients struggle with it.

The biggest downside would be the upset to the relationship with American brother next door – it would be great for them both if they did the same. I’m sure the brains have talked this one through, as Tui is quoted in the above article as saying,

“there has been quite a lot of work and consultation involved on this matter”

Sitting on the dateline, Samoa is in a unique position to make this call. Very few other countries in the world are located strategically to be able to choose their date, even if they wanted to – Alaska and some Pacific Islands like Tonga and the Cooks could do the same if they really wanted, but noone else could.

I estimate that the costs to do it would be surprisingly little* – an executive decision and it is done . . . declare it to the world and “too bad” if nobody else agrees! “Today is now Sunday the xxx of xxx in Paradise, please respect our new date!” and the world would then adjust it’s calendars, maps, websites, software and so on.

If I judge the PM right, it’s the sort of thing that he would relish – stepping up to the plate and hopefully batting a home run. It’s a big call, and a gutsy one if he does it, but as demonstrated by introducing daylight saving and changing the side of the road, it would be typical of a guy who puts what other people think behind what he thinks is good for his country. Top marks would be due too to the new Cabinet, if they’re right behind it.

An enormous opportunity to get Samoa on the world scene with something positive would be created. Following a billion dollars of negative press, this would also be a golden opportunity to put Samoa on the International stage with some positive news.

If this news is correct, then credit should also be due to the above reporter for a scoop as internationally this could likely be bigger news than the road switch of 2009.

Go Samoa, Go!

* Costs to Samoa would be relatively small. International costs however will be in the stratosphere by comparison . . . every map ever printed would be out of date; all websites and legacy software would be rendered invalid; airlines, travel agents, every person on earth would need to know and adjust their knowledge.



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  1. But which day do you lose? I hate Mondays but cunning officials might prefer you to lose a Saturday!!!

  2. Mundane! I doubt it . . . when you can only speak to your primary business partners on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (because of the day difference) and you consider that families are often split between the two countries, the change will have major ramifications for business as well as socially, mostly all positive.


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