By Natalie Sprott and Amy Kelly

Samoa is to reverse a 119-year-old decision by moving to the western side of the international date line to better align itself with its Australasian neighbours.

The island nation will set its clocks 24 hours into the future in December so that it is in the same time zone as Australia and New Zealand – two of its major trading partners.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi says the changes will have benefits for the tourism industry, with people now able to celebrate special occasions twice on the same date – once in Samoa and again in neighbouring American Samoa, an hour away by plane.

Peter Sereno from Australia’s Samoa Tourism Authority says he does not expect the time change to cause too many problems.

“Samoans are resilient people; very, very easy going, so I think it’s one of these things we will be taking in our stride,” he said.

He says it will also make it easier for Samoans to keep in touch with family living in other parts of Australasia.

The changes are expected to take place in December.