Thailand targets A-list stars

Thailand targets A-list stars

Amid controversy over Taylor Swift's concerts in Singapore, the Thai government is pulling out all the stops to find out how it can attract major festivals

Coldplay performs one of its two sold-out concerts in Bangkok as part of its Music of the Spheres World Tour at Rajamangala National Stadium. (Photo: Coldplay Facebook)
Coldplay performs one of its two sold-out concerts in Bangkok as part of its Music of the Spheres World Tour at Rajamangala National Stadium. (Photo: Coldplay Facebook)

With an ambitious target to establish Thailand as a festival hub in Southeast Asia and draw more international concerts, the government is planning to meet top record companies and concert organisers for global artists to discuss the pros and cons of hosting such events in the country, and which factors can be improved.

Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said the reason to meet professional concert organisers is not to offer funding, but to hear their requirements regarding facilitation, which could be useful for both organisers and audiences, as such big events typically require well-prepared plans.

"We'd rather focus on facilitation that could be improved to make Thailand a strong hub for international concerts and events in the region. Not only organisers or artists' crews should have more convenience, concertgoers should have a good experience for their whole trip in Thailand," said Ms Sudawan.

During a forum in Bangkok this month, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin revealed the deal made by Singapore to lure Taylor Swift's Eras Tour to exclusively perform in Singapore in Southeast Asia, and he said it would be worthwhile for Thailand to follow suit.

Last week, a joint statement from the Culture Ministry and the Singapore Tourism Board admitted that they did work directly with concert organisers, but declined to disclose the amount of the grant or confirm the allegations about the exclusive deal for the six sold-out concerts next week.

Ms Sudawan said investment for infrastructure might be necessary if the private sector agreed that it was essential for hosting events, such as a large-scale indoor concert hall, which Thailand still lacks.

She said the results of discussions will be useful for the government as it can see through existing obstacles in Thailand more precisely, and can assign relevant authorities to integrate their works, such as the Transport Ministry if there are issues about traffic or transport.

Companies to be included would be those fluent in the industry, such as Tero Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment.

"Before investing a fortune, we must understand the whole structure of the current market and clear existing obstacles to make our investment worthwhile. Economic benefits are quite high, as we see from the period during international concerts in Thailand this year that daily arrivals shot up to 140,000 per day, from an average of 100,000 per day," she said.

Not only the so-called A-list artists with a global reputation are welcomed, but the government would like to draw artists of all scale to the country to facilitate their fan base in the region, as Thailand has plenty of destinations to visit before or after the concerts.

Besides direct benefit from their spending, when these artists shared their moments while travelling in Thailand their fans globally could also view Thai tourism, food or attractions.


Governments often allocate funding to attract international artists or global promoters to host a large-scale concert to boost the economy, said Chakkarin Aungpratip, sales director of BITEC Management, the operator of Bitec Hall.

Mr Chakkarin said that when world-renowned artists arrange overseas tours, foreign fans in those regions typically fly to nearby countries that host the event.

These fans are generally high-quality tourists, who are willing to spend on artists and leisure purposes during their trip.

With a similarity to Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) travellers, concertgoers tend to spend three times more than general tourists.

Mr Chakkarin said concert organisers will consider several factors before deciding on a venue and city.

Fans gathers in front of Rajamangala National Stadium before attending Coldplay Music of the Spheres World Tour in Bangkok. (Photo credit: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

They will gauge how strong an artist's fanbase is at that destination and their spending power. The readiness of facilities and transportation connectivity is also considered.

"Although Thailand has good air travel connectivity, it still has a weakness in terms of public transportation within cities," said Mr Chakkarin.

As concerts tend to finish late at night, audiences have no choice but to ride a taxi that usually overcharges them since the public transport does not cover every neighbourhood in the city.

"All major venues have been facing such prolonged problems of overcharging," he said.

Apart from these factors, Thailand stood among the top destinations for international tourists, attributed to renowned tourism attractions, Thai food and a wide range of accommodation, he said.

Lately, Chinese fans have been flying to Thailand for Thai artist fan meet-ups, particularly those who starred in Y Series, showing the country's friendliness to the LGBTQ community.

This has become another advantage for Thailand to attract international artists, as some may not be welcomed by countries with stricter rules against this community, said Mr Chakkarin.

In 2023, most concerts at Bitec were mid-sized domestic events, including EDM concerts held at its 14,000-square-metre hall.

Looking forward, Mr Chakkarin said the concert business will continue to grow steadily this year, driven by the fan club segment who save money for their favourite artists.

Amid growing competition in the industry, Bitec will focus on concerts that attract the Gen X and Gen Y markets, who have high spending power and can bring out their family members to join the events.

Its new hall of 5,000 seats across 7,000 sq m, slated for June 2024, will help Bitec host more concerts from this year.

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