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Samoa Leaps Forward, Offers Tourists Time Travel Options

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Samoa's leap into the future has left the island nation's tourism industry shaking its head.

The Pacific nation, which has traditionally been just east of the international dateline and claimed to be the last place to celebrate the New Year, is turning its clocks forward an entire day -- skipping Friday January 30 -- as it moves to the west of the dateline to facilitate business dealings with Australia and New Zealand. This move might help most island businesses, but the Samoa Observer is reporting that there is some controversy as locals worry about shedding travelers around New Year.

"For years we have been trading well with Australia and New Zealand despite the time difference," Valentina Tufuga told the paper. "I think it will just be a major loss to the tourism sector, which can no longer boast that Samoa is the last country in the world to see the sun."

Of course, Samoa now becomes one of the first places in the world to celebrate the New Year so it doesn't have to relinquish its New Year's exceptionalism, but officials have said they don't believe that being first is as romantic as being last. Another obvious problem: All the tourist pamphlets are going to have to be rewritten.

CNN reports that the tourism industry has come up with a creative solution, advertising the archipelago, including American Samoa, which still sits on the other side of the dateline, as the one place in the world where travelers can celebrate the holiday of their choosing for 48 straight hours.

In 1892, Samoa had two July 4ths as the country changed the date to help sailors on board ships bound for San Francisco.

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Samoa to go back to the future with dateline shift