One economist expects Taylor Swift’s concerts to add around S$300 million to S$400 million to Singapore’s economy in the first quarter.

SINGAPORE: Economists have upgraded Singapore’s first-quarter growth forecast, according to a Bloomberg survey, with some attributing the gains partly to Taylor Swift’s six concerts here.

Gross domestic product is projected to expand 2.9 per cent in the three months ending Mar 31, the fastest pace in six quarters, according to the median estimate in the survey.

Economists also raised the annual growth expectation to 2.5 per cent from an earlier projection of 2.3 per cent. This is towards the upper end of the government’s forecast range of 1 to 3 per cent for 2024.

For the final quarter of last year, official figures showed that Singapore’s GDP grew by 2.2 per cent year-on-year, lower than the projection of 2.8 per cent but accelerating from the 1 per cent growth in the third quarter.

In 2023, the economy expanded by 1.1 per cent, a whisker below earlier government estimates of 1.2 per cent.

Singapore was the only stop in Southeast Asia for Swift’s Eras Tour after government agencies secured an exclusive deal with her.

More than 300,000 tickets were sold for her six shows at the National Stadium through Mar 9, with many fans travelling from other countries and cities. 

DBS economist Chua Han Teng told CNA on Monday that the concerts are estimated to add around S$300 million (US$225 million) to S$400 million, or 0.2 percentage points of GDP, to Singapore’s economy in the first quarter.

He noted that Swift’s tour carries benefits to the country’s hospitality, food and beverage, as well as retail sectors.

Mr Chua added that live concerts and performances by major artistes like Swift are a pull factor, attracting “fans to destinations around the world in droves”.

“Such large-scale popular events will help to bolster Singapore’s position as a thriving live music entertainment venue in the long-term,” he said. 

“Moreover, they also build Singapore’s credentials as a vibrant events hub, amid continued investments and efforts to grow a solid pipeline of business and leisure offerings, which will attract visitors and grow tourism receipts steadily.”

In response to CNA’s queries, HSBC economist Yun Liu said on Monday that Singapore is “poised to benefit from a turn in the trade cycle” after the economy grew 1.1 per cent in 2023.

“We expect 1Q24 GDP to grow 3.3 per cent year-on-year, driven by a sustained turnaround in industrial production,” Ms Liu said.

Travel-related services will continue to provide much-needed support, she added.

In particular, the “newly emerging music tourism” will inject a boost to the economy, benefitting travel-related sectors including flight, accommodation, retail, and food and beverage, Ms Liu said. 

The economic impact of Swift’s concerts has been in focus since it was revealed that Singapore provided a grant for the singer-songwriter to perform here, recognising the economic benefits it would bring.

The government did not reveal the size of the grant given but Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said on Mar 1 that it was “nowhere as high” as reports have suggested.

CNA understands that the figure is closer to US$2 million to US$3 million for all six shows, rather than that amount per show, which Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin cited.

According to one expert, Swift’s concerts in Singapore could generate revenue that possibly exceeds the estimated A$1.2 billion (US$787 million) in economic value from her time in Melbourne, where she had three shows.

Her four days of shows in Tokyo earlier this year are expected to generate up to 34.1 billion yen (US$226.8 million), according to Mitsumasa Etou, a representative of research site Economic Effects NET and a part-time lecturer at Tokyo City University.

Despite the upgraded forecast for Singapore’s first-quarter growth, economists surveyed by Bloomberg cautioned that the outlook remains fragile for the trade-reliant economy amid tight global interest rates.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Ministry of Trade and Industry said last month that upside risks to inflation remain. These include fresh shocks to global energy and shipping costs due to geopolitical conflicts and higher food commodity prices from adverse weather events.

Source: CNA