The Taylor Swift Effect in Singapore |

Taylor Swift
Photo: Paolo Villanueva

By now, you’ll have seen mentions of the Taylor Swift concert everywhere – especially on social media. She garners a lot of attention wherever she goes, and her Singapore concert demonstrated the power she wields. And it’s not just for her fans, but for the economy of wherever she’s touring. Some are calling this Swiftonomics or the Taylor Swift Effect.

Singapore is the only city she’s is performing in in Southeast Asia, thanks to the Singapore government’s generous grant and forward planning. While having Tay Tay perform is a boon for Swifties, the Singapore leg of her performance got a lot of people talking numbers.

Bad blood

Last year, Swifties in the region were let down as it was revealed that Singapore would be the only Southeast Asian stop for the Eras Tour. In response, fans in the Philippines launched a hashtag campaign, #WeWantErasTourPhilippines to convince Swift to include the country in her tour.

During a conference in Bangkok on Feb 15, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin suggested that the exclusivity of the Eras Tour in Singapore was due to financial incentives. Apparently, Swift’s concert organiser informed him that the Singapore government offered an incentive of US$2-US$3 million per show for exclusivity. There’s been no confirmation on the actual figure thus far.

That triggered criticism from the Philippines. Lawmaker Joey Salceda criticised the move, saying “this isn’t what good neighbours do,” and asked the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs to protest against the deal. Unsurprisingly, there was a media frenzy about this unhappiness over Singapore’s actions.

At a press conference on Mar 5, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was asked about whether the deal undermines the spirit of cooperation in the ASEAN. He told reporters that he did not see it as being “unfriendly” to neighbouring countries, as it was from Singapore’s tourism recovery fund created to revive the sector after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo: Paolo Villanueva

Don’t Blame Me

Back in early 2023, a Singapore team headed to LA to chat with the bigwigs about Swift’s upcoming Eras tour before any international venues were confirmed. Fast forward, they nailed a deal for a six-day concert at Singapore’s National Stadium.

So what was the reason the Singapore government courted Tay Tay? Could it be that there are Swifties in the STB office? Whatever it is, they know that she has a track record of bringing economic boom wherever she goes. Some call it Swiftonomics, or the Taylor Swift Effect.

When the Eras Tour hit 20 US cities, Swifties far outpaced typical spending patterns by shelling out an average of US$1,300 in local economies on travel, hotels, food, as well as merchandise. Around the country, Swifties have directly spent approximately US$5 billion in various destinations, according to Question Pro.

Taylor Swift’s music resonates throughout Southeast Asia, a region with about 700 million people. Imagine the economic impact.

While we can’t yet know exactly how much Swifties spend during the week in Singapore, economist Chua Hak Bin estimates that 70% of the 300,000 concertgoers will be tourists, and they could spend between S$300 million to S$500 million dollars.

In recent weeks, even owners of otherwise obscure craft shops from Punggol to People’s Park have seen business boom. Swifties came in hordes to buy beads for their fandom friendship bracelets. One retailer estimated that the average Swiftie spent between S$10-S$30 just on beads alone. And that’s just in bead shops, which have (probably) never been busier. Cafes, the MRT, and even MacDonald’s feel more crowded.

via Pexels

Admittedly, S$500 million seems like an impossibly high number to hit, but not when you break it down. For instance, Tay Tay’s biggest regional fan base according to most metrics (Spotify, Youtube, etc) is our ASEAN neighbour: the Philippines. 

According to Singapore Tourism Board in 2023, out of the top 10 nationalities visiting Singapore, Filipinos spent a higher percentage of their money on retail shopping than almost anyone else – more than Japanese, Koreans, or Chinese. And many of them are willing to spend, for instance up to US$6,000 on a holiday.

Look what you made me do

As regional governments express displeasure, it’s the fans who bear the brunt. The disappointment hit hard when it was announced that all six shows would take place in Singapore, the region’s priciest city with a strong currency.

Fans from around the region had to pay the price to come to Singapore to watch their idol on stage. Some were willing to shell out S$50,000 for a 3-night stay at Marina Bay Sands which includes 4 VIP tickets. Others weren’t as flush with cash, with many scraping what they had to buy second-hand tickets.

Hotels and airlines saw demand spike up to 30% around the dates of her concerts. A simple search revealed that not only are most fully booked, hotels that normally charge under S$200 are now charging at least double the rate.

Room rates spike during the concert dates

Last year in 2023, March was statistically Singapore’s worst month in terms of hotel revenue. Its best month was September. What happens in September? The F1.

The Singapore Grand Prix has generated around S$2 billion of incremental tourism receipts since its inception in 2008. The average cost to host the F1 event a year is an estimated S$150 million, with the Singapore government co-funding 60%.

Haters gonna hate hate hate

Even with the Singapore government spending millions to bring Taylor Swift to Singapore, it’s a paltry sum to what she normally earns. According to Forbes, she makes approximately US$13.6 million per concert. Washington Post estimates that Tay Tay’s world tour could reportedly net her over $4.1 billion by the end of 2024.

Using a pop concert as a tourism campaign isn’t new. Last year, when the Western Australia state government scored an exclusive Coldplay show in Perth, it was hailed as a big win for tourism to the region.

There’s no reason Singapore can’t do it too. “It is likely to generate significant benefits to the Singapore economy, especially to tourism activities such as hospitality, retail, travel, and dining, as has happened in other cities in which Taylor Swift has performed,” according to Edwin Tong, Singapore’s culture minister.

And with over 300,000 tickets sold, you can do the math.

Related: Dealing with post-concert depression