Taylor Swift is making Singapore a lot of money, and some of Singapore’s neighbors don’t like it



Taylor Swift isn’t just another famous person on a world tour; she’s actually making countries grow.

Thailand’s prime minister, Srettha Thavisin, said at a business forum on February 16 that Singapore paid almost $3 million per show to have an exclusive deal with her for the Southeast Asian part of her Eras Tour. This shows how important she is.

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Singapore’s tourism board gave Swift’s event a grant, but officials wouldn’t talk about the details of the deal with Business Insider because they wanted to protect business privacy. On February 28, Singapore’s culture minister Edwin Tong told the news site Mothership that the amount of the grant “is not what is being speculated online.”

As with other places where Taylor Swift has performed, it is expected to have a big impact on Singapore’s economy, especially in areas related to tourism like shopping, dining, and lodging. This was stated by Singapore’s culture ministry and tourism board in a joint statement.

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Between March 2 and March 9, Swift is set to play six shows in Singapore. It’s been sold more than 300,000 times.

It’s not just about the money, though.

Power in culture

Fans of big acts like Swift’s show say that Singapore is becoming known as a fun place to visit instead of just a place to do business and hold trade shows.

As it turns out, Singapore isn’t known for being the most exciting place to visit.

There was live music from some of the biggest names in the business on February 22. This made Singapore a little less appealing as a tourist spot, according to a note from HSBC economist Yun Liu.

Singapore is interested in Swiftonimics for more than just its economic effect, according to Tong, the culture minister of Singapore.

“We look at it from the perspective of building Singapore into a cultural hub that’s of strong strategic value for us,” Tong told the news outlet.

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“These concerts help tourists remember us and see us as a high-end destination that is worth the extra cost,” Kevin Cheong, managing partner of Syntegrate, a company that works to grow destinations and tourism, told BI.

Tourists spend

Everywhere Swift’s tour goes, spending on things linked to tourism goes up. That includes everything from plane tickets and hotel rooms to food and drinks, as well as specialty goods like friendship rings.

This is also true for Singapore.

Experts in the field of economics say that Taylor Swift’s shows in Singapore could bring in up to $372 million in tourist money.

According to David Mann, the Asia Pacific chief economist of Mastercard, Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world and has a strong currency. This means that tourists from countries with lower currencies are not likely to go shopping in the country.

When it comes to spending money on activities, things are different, and the difference is bigger since Singapore is Swift’s only stop in Southeast Asia.

Mann said that people who have enough money to pay for their flight, Swift’s show, and a hotel are likely to keep spending money at other tourist spots.

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Singapore’s government gets 9% of all goods and services sold, so money spent by tourists also helps the country’s funds.

Cheong said, “It means the whole ecosystem.”

Swift and the British mega-band Coldplay are the first two big acts to play in Singapore in 2024. According to a note from February 15, Nomura economist Si Ying Toh, they are likely to add 0.25 percentage points to the country’s first-quarter GDP.

In the short run, Taylor Swift “pays the bills.”

Cheong said that Singapore’s government made a good short-term choice by going with Swift: “You need business right now to help pay the bills and put us on the world map.”

People who live near the rich city-state are paying attention, and some of them don’t like it.

Singapore’s decision to give Swift a grant for her shows in the city-state comes “at the expense of neighboring countries, which could not attract their own foreign concertgoers and whose fans had to go to Singapore,” a Filipino lawmaker told the Philippine Star on Thursday.

The prime minister of Thailand, Srettha, also made fun of Singapore and said that his country could have spent a lot of money to get Swift to perform there as well.

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“If I had known this, I would have brought the shows to Thailand,” Srettha told Bangkok Post about Swift’s music grant from Singapore.

Fear of missing out seems to be spreading to Indonesia. On February 19, tourism minister Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno told Bloomberg TV that the country needs “Swiftonomics” for tourism and is thinking about adding more rewards for big events like concerts.

Cheong said that Singapore can’t rely on big performance grants to bring in more tourists in the long run.

“It’s a wise move, but is it sustainable?” Cheong replied that he believes Singapore is looking for mega-concerts as a quick way to boost the economy before big investments like an eco-resort and a new tower for the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel are finished.

In the long run, Cheong said, the best thing to do is to make Singapore so appealing that artists and tourists would come for their big events even if they didn’t get funds.

“It has to be as attractive as Las Vegas where performers will definitely make a stop,” he said.