Today is the first day of Taylor Swift’s six shows in Singapore as part of The Eras Tour.

Reader: Six? I know Taylor Swift is popular but need so many shows meh?

Yeah, and there’s still thousands of people who were unable to get tickets.

Technically, if she had all the time in the world, I think she could go on tour non-stop for a few years to let all her fans go to her concerts. Maybe she could even stay in Singapore for a month or apply to be a PR.

Reader: If her Singapore shows are sold out then why don’t people go to her shows in Malaysia? Kuala Lumpur so close, drive about four to five hours can already reach.

Actually, Singapore is the superstar’s only stop in South-east Asia.

How Edwin Tong Courted Taylor Swift

It’s now revealed that more than a year ago, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong led a team to Los Angeles to woo Taylor Swift to Singapore.

You also wish your work trip would let you meet or work with a famous pop-star and her team, right?

Mr Tong said it was an important project, part of a move to revitalise the Singapore Sports Hub and bring it “back alive”.

Swift’s Singaporean fans also agree that getting Taylor Swift to come to Singapore is important.

The team comprised officials from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), as well as representatives from Sport Singapore and Kallang Alive Sport Management (KASM), which had taken over the running of the Sports Hub in December 2022.

During the trip in early 2023, the team met with a number of different operators, promoters, and agents for both music concerts and sports events in Los Angeles.

Among those they met, one of them was Swift’s agent. As her international tour dates had not yet been announced, Mr Tong’s team very quickly spotted an opportunity and put forward a proposition for her to come to Singapore.

They quickly figured out what they could do to make it work for the American pop-star and her team in terms of dates, venue, and more.

They also requested for Singapore to be the last stop for our leg of her tour (Asia-Pacific) so that if demand was high, more shows could be added. That’s how we ended up with six shows from the original three.

An agreement was signed around May 2023, and the dates for her international shows were released a month later.

 When the dates were released, fans noticed something weird.

Thousands of overseas fans were devastated when they realised something – Singapore was going to be Swift’s only stop in South-east Asia.

Why Singapore is Swift’s Only Stop in South-east Asia

Mr Tong and his team saw a huge economical advantage of making Singapore Taylor’s only stop in South-east Asia, and siezed that opportunity.

On 20 February, the Singapore Tourism Board and MCCY confirmed that a grant had been provided to help bring the tour here. The amount was not disclosed.

You can watch this video for more information:

This announcement was made after Thai prime minister Srettha Thavisin claimed at a business forum that the Singapore government had financially supported Swift’s concerts.

He alleged that the government had offered S$2.7 million to $4 million to the star in exchange for its exclusivity in South-east Asia.

Mr Tong has since said that the actual amount offered for exclusivity is “nowhere as high as what’s being speculated online”.

“There are going to be some questions in Parliament on Monday (4 March), and I will deal with that in some detail on Monday,” he said.

All six shows in Singapore sold out, with more than 300,000 tickets being purchased by not only those in Singapore, but those from other countries as well. Those from other South-east Asian countries have flown in, or will be flying in, to Singapore to catch the superstar’s shows over the next week or so.

When I queued overnight at SingPost to get tickets to the tour, I even met a fan who had flown in from the Philippines to queue overnight alongside other fans. That’s hardcore dedication.

Hotels and flights were booked out in the days leading up to the star’s first show here, sending overseas fans into a frenzy trying to find affordable accommodation here.

According to CNA, hotels and airlines have reported increases in demand of up to 30%.

Word is, some fans will be crossing the border to Johor Bahru after the concert to stay as it’s really so tough to find affordable accommodation now.

The Straits Times reported economists estimating that it could boost Singapore’s economy by up to $500 million in tourism receipts.

The economic boost that Taylor Swift has brought to Singapore is undeniable.

Bead shops have seen booming business in recent weeks, hotels and airlines have seen a surge in bookings, and food and beverage (F&B) places here, especially near National Stadium, are sure to see lots of people over the next few days.

In case you’re not sure how bead shops are connected to Taylor Swift, read this article here.

Actively going out to court big stars, events and opportunities is part of the Sports Hub’s new “hustle”, said Mr Tong.

“We look at the market and see what Singaporeans want, but beyond that we also want to see the impact it can make. We want to turn Singapore into a space where people can enjoy a cultural hub, whether it’s in arts or culture or sports.”

The trip to Los Angeles was not only an opportunity for the team to see what content and programmes they could bring in, but also for them to take a look at the more technical side of things.

The team was able to observe how top-class venues like SoFi Stadium or Arena (in California) were able to turn into something that was easily transferable from sports to music to functions overnight.

Mr Tong added that they want to turn our Sports Hub into a comparable venue.

So this could only mean one thing: Taylor Swift might just be the first of many.

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