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Taylor Swift’s Singapore show will be her only South-East Asia stop, revealing how super concerts can get political



Tens of thousands of Swifties are flying into Singapore over the next week because of a deal the city-state government struck to be the only South-East Asia country to host Taylor Swift.

Fresh off her record-breaking seven-night tour in Melbourne and Sydney, the pop queen is doing six sold-out shows at Singapore’s national stadium.

It will match the run that British rock group Coldplay did at the same venue in January.

But the singer-songwriter’s appeal is so great that the taxpayers of Singapore are paying to ensure she only plays there, much to the chagrin of fans in neighbouring countries.

The slate of shows will bring a financial windfall for hotels, restaurants and airlines.

But it has meant fans from Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines have had little choice but to fork out thousands of dollars in flights and accommodation to see their idol.

“I think I’ve spent 10 million rupiah [$1,000] so far,” said Indonesian fan Ernas Tiara, who is going on her first overseas trip with friends for the concert.

Ms Tiara will also stay in the airport on the first of their two nights in the city-state, but she knows other expenses will be unavoidable, including Swift’s concert merchandise.

“I’m not just spending money on accommodation and tickets, I’m also spending on the outfit, the make-up and friendship bracelets,” she said.

Her friend Annisa Pratiwi said she missed out on seeing Swift during her only Indonesian concert in Jakarta 10 years ago.

So when the Asian leg of the Eras tour was announced, she set up multiple user accounts to secure tickets for Singapore when they first went on sale last year.

“I can’t describe the feeling of seeing her in person. I just can’t wait,” she said.

Other fans weren’t so lucky and had been counting on more countries in Asia being announced.

A concert by Coldplay last year in Jakarta and another by British pop singer Ed Sheeran this month stirred hopes among Swifties that their idol would return to Jakarta.

But like fans in the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia, they were disappointed to learn they would have to travel to a much more expensive city-state to see her.

Adding to their sorrow will be the news that it was engineered this way to deliver an economic boost to Singapore.

Singapore’s exclusive deal is ‘not what good neighbours do’
Earlier this month, the prime minister of Thailand, Sretta Thavisin, let slip at a business forum that Swift was avoiding other countries because Singapore had locked her in exclusively

He said the promoter, AEG, had told him Singapore’s government was offering between $US2 million and $US3 million a show for an exclusive agreement.

AEG has not publicly commented.

The revelation prompted Singapore’s government to confirm it paid a grant to the singer to entice her to the city, although it didn’t specify the amount or the terms of the deal.

“The Singaporean government is clever. They told [organisers] not to hold any other shows in [South-East] Asia,” Mr Sretta reportedly said at the forum.

He wasn’t the only one admiring Singapore’s move.

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