It’s Singapore’s turn to benefit from ‘Swiftonomics’—and the city-state's neighbors fear a reported backroom deal froze them out

Taylor Swift plays her first concert in Singapore on Saturday—the first of six sold-out shows in the city-state as part of her globetrotting Eras Tour. Analysts in the U.S. are already talking about a Swift-sized bump to the U.S. economy, to the tune of at least $5 billion in additional consumer spending.

Now it may be Singapore’s turn to reap the rewards of the mega-star’s world tour. While the full effects won’t be clear for weeks, initial data suggest that Singapore is seeing renewed interest from Swift fans.

Data from travel platform reports that Singapore-related bookings between March 1 to 9—the concert period—is 275% higher than the number for March 15 to 23, a similar period of time two weeks later. For March 1 to 9, Singapore inbound flight bookings are 186% higher and hotel bookings are 462% than the March 15 to 23 period.

“Concert economics” could be a growth driver for Singapore, predicts HSBC, which also notes that tourism-related services make up about 10% of the country’s GDP. While Singapore traditionally attracts travel from the MICE sector (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition), the country is hosting a wide array of A-list performers this year.

British band Coldplay performed in six sold-out concerts at the National Stadium in January; HSBC, citing data from travel platform Agoda, found that searches for accommodation during Coldplay’s concert period rose by 8.7 times.

Bruno Mars and South Korean pop start IU will perform in Singapore after Swift’s visit. And it’s not just concerts: The city will also host the World Aquatics Championship in 2025 and is interested in hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Did Singapore sign an exclusivity deal with Taylor Swift?

Singapore is the only Southeast Asian stop on Swift’s globe-trotting Eras Tour, meaning fans elsewhere in the region will have to travel to the city-state to see the singer perform. Singapore’s neighbors are now wondering whether that a savvy play from its government.

Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin claimed earlier this month that Singapore paid concert organizers up to $3 million per show under an exclusivity deal. “The Singaporean government is clever. They told [organisers] not to hold any other shows in [south-east] Asia,” he said, according to the Guardian.

Singapore’s tourism board and culture ministry have since confirmed that Swift received a government grant, but declined to give details on whether the money came with an exclusivity condition, citing confidentiality agreements.

Kallang Sports Alive Management (KASM), which manages the Singapore National Stadium, the venue where Swift will be performing, has been actively courting Swift since early 2023, the Straits Times reports. There was “certainly an understanding that it was an only-in-Singapore event,” KASM chairman Keith Magnus told the newspaper.

An exclusive performance from Swift is a smart move from an economic perspective, even if it needed a hefty government grant, says Jose Raymond, managing director at the public relations firm SW Strategies.

“Everything she touches turns to gold dust. You only see this impact once in a while,” he says. “There will be lots of inbound traffic and transactions—and every transaction means someone’s paying taxes.”

That’s little comfort to Singapore’s neighbors, who will miss out on the fun.

On Thursday, Joey Salceda, a legislator in the Philippines, called on his government to demand answers from the Singaporean government. In a statement, he said Singapore’s decision to freeze out its neighbors runs against the consensus-based approach of ASEAN, the regional bloc for Southeast Asia.

Singapore’s deal with Swift is”not what good neighbors do,” he said.

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