Economic benefits from Swift concerts outweigh grant given, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Economic benefits from Swift concerts outweigh grant given

The expected economic benefits to Singapore from the ongoing Taylor Swift concerts have been assessed to be significant, and outweigh the size of the grant given to the concert promoter by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said this on March 4, in response to questions in Parliament about the estimated economic returns and value of the superstar’s six concerts here.

In a joint statement on Feb 20, his ministry and STB said it worked directly with the promoter AEG Presents and provided a grant – of which the scale and conditions attached were not revealed – to help bring Swift in. It has been speculated that the amount is in the millions per show.

“There has been some online speculation as to the size of the grant. I can say that it is not accurate and not anywhere as high as speculated, but due to business confidentiality, we cannot reveal the specific size and conditions of the grant,” said Mr Tong.

“I can assure members of the House that the economic benefits to Singapore are assessed to be significant and outweigh the size of the grant,” he added, noting that direct economic benefits include additional tourist arrivals, spending on tickets, flights, hotel stays, as well as entertainment, retail and dining in Singapore.

The Straits Times reported economists’ estimates of a boost of up to $500 million in tourism receipts for Singapore’s economy.

The grants, however, have been a point of contention and sparked unhappiness among some lawmakers in neighbouring countries like Thailand and the Philippines.

The issue came to light after Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said he was informed by the promoter that the Singapore Government had offered subsidies of up to US$3 million (S$4 million) for each concert, in exchange for Swift agreeing not to perform elsewhere in South-east Asia during The Eras Tour.

Workers’ Party MP Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) asked why there is a need to give taxpayer-funded grants to attract acts like Taylor Swift if Singapore is already an attractive destination.

In response, Mr Tong said the Goverment has various considerations on which events to give grants to, as well as the terms and structure of such grants, while taking into account the overall demand and Singapore’s objectives.

“In this case, we were mindful that if we wanted Singapore to be part of the tour stops – and if you look at her past tour history – it’s very difficult to be one or two nights alone because of the (scale of the) setup,” he said, adding that holding a concert over a certain number of nights can result in economies of scale, and determines if a concert is held in a location, or not at all.

“Every event, whether it’s arts, culture, lifestyle, music, has a different set of considerations and we’re motivated by the different outcomes we want to achieve,” he added.

In an interview with ST, it was revealed that Mr Tong himself led a multi-agency team from Singapore on an exploratory trip to the United States in February 2023 which subsequently secured the run of six shows at the National Stadium in the Singapore Sports Hub.

In Parliament, Mr Tong also noted that beyond the tourism and economic benefits, being able to host A-list artistes such as Swift will help position Singapore as a cultural hub in South-east Asia, one that is capable of hosting a range of different arts, music and culture events, as well as major sporting and lifestyle events.

“This helps to brand Singapore as a fun, vibrant destination,” he said.

“Singapore faces intense regional competition for these concerts and we will need to continue investing in our infrastructure and software to continue attracting marquee entertainment and lifestyle events.”