Holy Ground

Infrastructure Investments for Cultural Tourism Growth

In the dynamic landscape of Southeast Asian tourism, one cannot overlook Singapore’s impressive strides in the concert tourism segment. With its world-class venues and a knack for attracting top international acts, Singapore has become a beacon for music enthusiasts across the region.

Just days before American pop star Taylor Swift began her six-day sold-out shows at the 55-seater Singapore National Stadium, the city state’s government made headlines as Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin claimed the Singapore government paid her team almost US$3 million per show, supposedly on the condition that she would make Singapore the only stop on the Southeast Asian leg of her tour next month.

“[Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the concert promoter] didn’t tell me the exact figure, but they said the Singapore government offers subsidies of between US$2 million and US$3 million,” Srettha told attendees of the iBusiness Forum 2024 in Bangkok, according to a report by The Guardian, a global news website.

Srettha’s statements generated buzz in the region with fans either criticizing or praising Singapore. While Swift’s fans from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia were disappointed that the move robbed them of the chance to experience her crowd-drawing concert tour, others were in awe of Singapore’s push to secure exclusivity. To them, it was “forward-thinking.”

But the race to get stellar names performing in one’s venue to attract tourists is not without higher stakes – a significant boost to a country’s economy. In the case of Swift’s concerts, the numbers are quite staggering.

Japanese economist, Eto Mitsumas, a part-time lecturer at Tokyo City University says Swift’s The Eras Tour concerts in Tokyo in February this year have generated an economic impact of over 34 billion yen, or about 228 million US Dollars.

In a joint response to media inquiries, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Singapore Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said a grant was awarded for Swift’s concerts as they were likely to “generate significant benefits to Singapore’s economy, especially tourism activities such as hospitality, retail, travel, and dining”.

Bold move as it may have been, a grant alone cannot guarantee the venue preference of concert organizers – other factors, such as infrastructure, logistics, mobility, stability of the country, security, and connectivity, also matter.

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