Swifties make pricey pilgrimage to Singapore

Swifties make pricey pilgrimage to Singapore

City-state counting on an economic shot in the arm from six sold-out shows

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Swifties make pricey pilgrimage to Singapore
Taylor Swift fans exchange friendship bracelets at the National Stadium on Saturday ahead of the first of six Eras Tour concerts in the city-state. (Photo: Reuters)

SINGAPORE - Charlyn Suizo is in Singapore this week for one reason only: Taylor Swift.

The 30-year-old software engineer, who heads a Philippines group of Swifties, as fans of the singer are known, flew in from Manila on Friday with 17 friends.

She is spending at least US$6,000 on her flights, concert tickets and accommodation. That is slightly above the average annual household income in her home country.

“This is the biggest amount I have spent for a concert. I never really spent big … for someone else, just Taylor Swift,” said Suizo, who has splashed out on a VIP ticket costing more than S$1,000 ($745). She plans to see three of Swift’s six performances in Singapore.

Suizo is among thousands of Swifties descending on Singapore this week from all over Southeast Asia to catch the American megastar’s Eras Tour, giving the sluggish local economy a much-needed boost.

Swift is playing six sold-out nights in Singapore, her only stop in Southeast Asia, from March 2 to 9.

Chua Hak Bin, an economist at Maybank, estimates that seven in 10 of the 300,000 concertgoers will be coming in from abroad, spending between S$350 million and S$500 million ($260 million to $370 million) on hotels, food and entertainment.

By comparison, the F1 Singapore Grand Prix has generated around S$2 billion ($1.5 billion) in tourism receipts since it started in 2008, according to the trade ministry.

Meanwhile, analysts at HSBC say hotel rooms in Singapore now cost 30% more than in pre-pandemic 2019.

Edmund Ong, general manager at Trip.com Singapore, said that from March 1-9, the cost of flights into Singapore nearly tripled while accommodation bookings almost quintupled. Bookings for attractions and tours shot up by more than 2,300%.

Economic growth in Singapore slowed to 1.1% last year from 3.8% in 2022, with growth of 1-3% expected this year, according to the government.

Last month, the government said it had given Swift a grant to play in Singapore. It did not disclose how much but said the concerts were “likely to generate significant benefits to the Singapore economy, especially to tourism activities such as hospitality, retail, travel and dining”.

The announcement annoyed other countries in the region, with Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin saying the grant was made on condition that it would be Swift’s only show in Southeast Asia, while a Filipino lawmaker said it “isn’t what good neighbours do”. Singapore’s government did not confirm the exclusivity clause.

Singapore has seen a boom in concerts since pandemic lockdowns ended, with big names like Blackpink, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran playing sold-out shows.

Fans dance to Taylor Swift songs outside the National Stadium on Saturday. (Photo: Reuters)

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