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Swifties make pricey pilgrimage to star's only Southeast Asian stop

Swifties make pricey pilgrimage to star's only Southeast Asian stop

Sunday, March 03, 2024, 11:34 GMT+7
Swifties make pricey pilgrimage to star's only Southeast Asian stop
Filipina 'Swiftie' Charlyn Suizo poses for a selfie with other fans before a Taylor Swift concert, outside National Stadium in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

SINGAPORE -- Filipina 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 $6,000 on her flights, concert tickets and accommodation. That is slightly above the average annual household income in her home country.

Taylor Swift fans, or Swifties, dance to her music at the National Stadium during Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Taylor Swift fans, or Swifties, dance to her music at the National Stadium during Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

"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 star's Eras Tour, giving the sluggish local economy a much-needed boost.

Taylor Swift's fans, or Swifties, pose for a picture at the National Stadium during Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Taylor Swift's fans, or Swifties, pose for a picture at the National Stadium during Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Swift is this week playing six sold-out nights in Singapore, her only stop in Southeast Asia.

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.

Taylor Swift's fans from Vietnam take a picture of their concert passes at the National Stadium during Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Taylor Swift's fans from Vietnam take a picture of their concert passes at the National Stadium during Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

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 1-9 March, 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.

Taylor Swift's fans, or Swifties, queue to purchase Swift merchandise at the National Stadium during Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Taylor Swift's fans, or Swifties, queue to purchase Swift merchandise at the National Stadium during Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

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".

Taylor Swift's fans, or Swifties, sing and dance to her music at the National Stadium for Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters
Taylor Swift's fans, or Swifties, sing and dance to her music at the National Stadium for Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

The announcement annoyed other countries in the region, with the Thai prime minister 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.

Taylor Swift's fans, or Swifties, take a photo at the National Stadium for Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Taylor Swift's fans, or Swifties, take a photo at the National Stadium for Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

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

Taylor Swift fans, or Swifties, exchange friendship bracelets at the National Stadium during Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Taylor Swift fans, or Swifties, exchange friendship bracelets at the National Stadium during Swift's Eras Tour concert in Singapore March 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

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