Taylor Swift concerts: Singapore's courtship to bring pop star for Southeast Asia-exclusive gigs began in early 2023

Concerts expected to boost hotel and airlines businesses, while online marketplace Carousell has suspended sales of Swift's tickets

Taylor Swift performs at Melbourne Cricket Ground on 16 February 2024.
Taylor Swift performs at Melbourne Cricket Ground on 16 February 2024. (PHOTO: Graham Denholm/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

It’s been a long time coming, but Taylor Swift's The Eras Tour is finally on the horizon for Singapore.

The Straits Times (ST) reported on Saturday (24 February) that the discussions to bring the pop superstar to the shores of the city-state started back in early 2023. A team from Singapore flew to Los Angeles to meet leaders from the sports and entertainment world, just as Swift was about to start her massive tour in the United States. No international dates and venues were confirmed then.

A few months later, the Singapore team was able to start working with concert promoter Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) to bring Swift in for a six-night run of the Eras Tour next month. Singapore is the only Southeast Asia stop on the global concert tour, and tickets for all six shows from 2 to 9 March have sold out.

Keith Magnus, chairman of Kallang Alive Sport Management (KASM), the corporate entity managing the Sports Hub, said KASM had initiated the idea to bring Swift's tour to Singapore and had led the discussions.

“Once the discussion had progressed and we saw the opportunity of holding an only-in-Singapore event, we then thought it made sense to take a whole-of-government approach and brought in other relevant agencies to really have Team Singapore bringing in Team Taylor,” he told ST.

STB, MCCY said grant was offered to bring in Eras Tour

The exclusivity of Swift's tour in Southeast Asia has garnered much attention, especially after Thailand Prime Minister Sretta Thavisin claimed that Singapore sought an exclusivity deal for the concert.

AEG had allegedly informed him that the Singapore government offered subsidies of up to US$3 million (S$4 million) for each of her six concerts.

The Singapore Tourism Board and the Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth subsequently released a joint statement on Tuesday in response to PM Sretta's comments, saying that a grant had indeed been offered in bringing in Swift's concerts. The statement did not reveal the sum offered.

On the subject of the exclusivity, Magnus told ST that there was “certainly an understanding that it was an only-in-Singapore event, and that's how it was branded”. He too did not share specifics of the deal or the grant amount.

Taylor Swift effect on the economy

It’s not a surprise why countries are interested in bringing Swift in. After all, much has been reported on the "Taylor Swift effect" and the economic benefits she brings along with her tour.

In Singapore’s case, CNA reported on Friday that demand among hotels and airlines saw an increase of up to 30 per cent around the dates of her concert. Jetstar Asia told the media outlet that demand has risen by 20 per cent for routes connecting destinations like Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta to Singapore, during the period when Swift is performing.

Representatives from Raffles Sentosa Singapore and Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa, and M Hotel Singapore also told CNA that there was a 20 to 30 per cent increase in demand for bookings.

Already, experts have predicted that Swift's tour in Australia could generate A$1.2 billion (S$1.05 billion) in economic value in Melbourne alone, where she had three shows earlier this month. Her six concerts in Singapore could very well surpass that mark.

Carousell suspends sales of Eras Tour tickets

Demand for Swift's Singapore concert tickets - probably due to its exclusivity on some level - has reached a feverish high.

Police revealed earlier this month that more than 1,500 people have fallen prey to concert ticket scams over the past year, losing a total of at least S$1.1 million. Such scams have seen a resurgence with international acts like Coldplay and Swift holding their concerts in Singapore.

To combat these scams, consumer marketplace Carousell announced on Friday that they are suspending sales of Eras Tour tickets across all six of their markets - Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan. Users will no longer be able to create new listings for Eras Tour tickets, while existing listings will be taken down by Monday.

Carousell noted that The Eras Tour is a “unique case” that resulted in this “one-off exception to adopt this approach”. "“This concert is unique in that we expect many overseas concert goers who may not know how to adequately protect themselves from local scam tactics," said its chief of staff Su Lin Tan in a media release.

"Additionally, we realise that the two weeks leading up to the Eras Tour shows are prime for scammers taking advantage of last-minute panic buying of concert tickets. Hence we are stepping in to do our part to manage the situation in our platform, and working very closely with the Singapore Police Force."

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