Taylor Swift, Singapore Cut Deal and Neighbors Aren't Happy

Enter the growing industry of event tourism
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2024 9:07 AM CST
Taylor Swift's Singapore Deal Causes a Ruckus
Taylor Swift arrives at the 66th annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 4, 2024, in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

We know Taylor Swift concerts generate billions in consumer spending. And now we know countries are willing to pay big for the advantage, at the cost of their neighbors missing out. Earlier this week, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong confirmed the country's tourism board paid an undisclosed sum—reported to be nearly $3 million for each of six sold-out shows—to make the island the only stop in Southeast Asia on Swift's Eras world tour. Here's what to know:

  • Why? Singapore's economy was expected to receive a $370 million boost in the week Swift was in the country, per Quartz, which calls the deal "a masterclass in concert economics." More than 300,000 concert tickets were sold in Singapore, per Channel News Asia, which reports demand for flights and hotels rose 30%.
  • Bad blood: This has led to some backlash from Singapore's usually friendly neighbors. "If I had known this, I would have brought the shows to Thailand," Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said last month, per the Bangkok Post. Hong Kong's Chief Executive John Lee spoke of "competing with different cities" to secure mega events, per NPR, while Philippine lawmaker Joey Salceda claimed Singapore was operating by "the law of the jungle," which is not "what good neighbors do," per Inquirer.net.

  • Singapore responds: Loong defended the move Tuesday during a meeting of the the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Australia. "It has turned out to be a very successful arrangement," he said, per NPR. "I don't see that as being unfriendly."
  • A learning opportunity: Thailand, at least, isn't holding a grudge. Secretary-General of the Prime Minister Prommin Lertsuridej said Monday that the country admired Singapore's move and would view it as an example to follow in future. He said the government was already working to make the country more attractive for mega events, including by allowing incentive packages, per the AP.

  • A growing industry: Swift and her effect on economies has drawn focus to what NPR reports is the growing industry of event tourism, driven by young people in pursuit of experiences over stuff. It adds research firm Business Markets Insights now expects the Asia Pacific events market to grow to nearly $550 billion by 2028.
  • Fans: Not all Swifties in the region can afford to travel to the shows. But those who can view the trip as an unbeatable experience. One fan who paid $450 for a ticket plus $300 for a flight from Hong Kong said it was "totally worth it" to take in "a once-in-a-generation tour," per NPR. Another fan who flew in from Hong Kong said, "It is a big splurge, but it's kind of like birthday, Christmas, everything rolled into one."
(More Taylor Swift stories.)

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