Top-tier concerts helped draw over a million visitors to Singapore Sports Hub in first three months of 2024; around RM1.5bil income generated

Taylor Swift drew more than 300,000 fans to her six shows in March. - ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): Concerts by A-list acts in 2024 have so far not only drawn higher-than-usual numbers to the Singapore Sports Hub, but also given the Republic’s economy a significant boost.

Driven by top-tier concerts, the number of visitors to the Sports Hub in the first three months of 2024 exceeded one million, which was more than the 700,000 visitors in the second half of 2023.

The concerts alone – by Coldplay and Mayday in January, Ed Sheeran in February and Taylor Swift in March – drew a combined total of around 840,000 visitors. The shows were held at the 55,000-capacity National Stadium.

The figures were shared by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, who was personally involved in securing a deal to bring American pop star Swift and her globally successful Eras Tour to Singapore. Swift’s concert was a coup for the Republic as it was her only stop in the region.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) noted a “surge in tourism” that boosted Singapore’s economy in the first quarter of 2024 – largely due to the Coldplay and Swift concerts – in its macroeconomic review published in April.

Coldplay was estimated to have brought in over 200,000 fans over six shows in January, while Swift drew more than 300,000 fans to her six shows in March.

According to estimates by private-sector analysts, these large-scale concerts could have generated tourism receipts of between $350 million and $450 million (RM1.5 billion), MAS noted, with estimates differing depending on assumptions such as the proportion of foreign visitors among the concertgoers and their length of stay in Singapore.

The economic injection Singapore saw is on track to meet these projections.

Taylor Swift’s run of March concerts seemed to have also proved a boost for visitor arrivals.  - PHOTO: ST FILETaylor Swift’s run of March concerts seemed to have also proved a boost for visitor arrivals. - PHOTO: ST FILE

“The numbers are probably in the ballpark of the private-sector estimates... subject to STB’s (Singapore Tourism Board) evaluations, we’re probably around there,” Mr Tong told The Straits Times at the National Stadium after the HSBC SVNS Singapore rugby tournament kicked off on May 3.

Swift’s run of March concerts seemed to also boost visitor arrivals.

From January to April, Singapore had 5.7 million international visitors, with a peak of 1.48 million in March, according to figures by STB. This was about 90 per cent of the number during the same period in 2019 before the pandemic.

Singapore’s arrival figures then took a hit in April, slipping to 1.36 million visitors. This was also a weaker performance than the first two months of the year, which saw 1.44 million visitors each month.

Retail sales in Singapore also rose 2.7 per cent in March, according to data from the Department of Statistics, lifted by Swift’s Eras Tour performances that month.

“The broader-base impact (of these concerts) is greater, and the economic share goes deeper across more sectors in society and a bigger spread of the economy,” said Mr Tong.

This is unlike a marquee event like the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix where the economic impact, while significant, is typically concentrated around high-end hotels and high-end food and beverage offerings, he noted.

“Here, you have a trickle-down effect to even the mom-and-pop shops, like the beads and merchandise shops that were sold out during the Taylor Swift concerts,” he said, referring to the bead and craft shops that enjoyed a business boost as “Swifties” wiped out shelves of their items to make friendship bracelets to wear and trade at her concerts.

Foreign visitors help boost hotel occupancy

Additionally, around half the attendees for the Swift concerts were foreigners, noted Mr Tong, whereas for Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars, only around 20 per cent were foreigners, given that these acts also played shows in other parts of South-east Asia.

With the influx of visitors, hotels said they saw roaring business – usually seen only during the F1 period – in the first quarter.

STB data showed that the month of March, in particular, saw swift earnings for hotels, with overall room revenue climbing to $493.8 million, up 9.5 per cent from the $451.2 million in February, and 37 per cent higher than the year-ago period.

Hotels ST spoke to attributed the spike in business specifically to the concerts. Large hotel operators like Hilton and Marriott International saw over 90 per cent occupancy across their properties here.

“Between this year’s ‘concert season’ from January to April, we’ve seen a substantial increase in booking demand with higher-than-average occupancy levels across Hilton’s four properties in Singapore,” said Mr Ben George, Hilton’s Asia-Pacific senior vice-president and commercial director.

Its hotels, including Conrad Singapore Orchard and Conrad Centennial Singapore, saw collective occupancy levels reach over 90 per cent, added Mr George.

“The best performing period was during the Eras Tour week (from March 2 to March 9) when our 15 hotels in Singapore enjoyed an average occupancy of 92 per cent,” said Mr Oriol Montal, managing director for luxury, Asia-Pacific (excluding China) at Marriott International.

Coldplay was estimated to have brought in over 200,000 fans over six shows in January, while Swift drew more than 300,000 fans to her six shows in March. - PHOTO: ST FILEColdplay was estimated to have brought in over 200,000 fans over six shows in January, while Swift drew more than 300,000 fans to her six shows in March. - PHOTO: ST FILE

Pullman Singapore Orchard saw a 15 per cent spike in occupancy above normal demand for the Coldplay and Swift concerts. General manager Rob McIntyre said there were more Indonesian guests for Coldplay but an increase in travellers from the Philippines for Swift.

Hotel operators also saw a younger demographic of customers booking rooms, with a longer average stay.

At newly opened boutique hotel 21 Carpenter in Carpenter Street, general manager Tarun Kalra said the majority of guests were in their 20s and early 30s from all over the region, as bookings increased by about 30 per cent compared with typical weeks – especially during the six-night Swift concerts in March.

“This surge in bookings highlighted a strong correlation between the popularity of the concerts and increased hotel occupancy,” said Mr Kalra.

Similarly, Amara Singapore said the majority of its guests who booked stays during this period were between the ages of 30 and 35, with a significant proportion from South-east Asia.

Senior vice-president of Amara Hotels and Resorts Dawn Teo said guests typically arrived a few days before the concert to explore the city and left a day after attending the concert.

Operators welcomed the temporary boosts in occupancy, but were also mindful of keeping the influx of guests steady throughout the year.

“While we welcome these short-term increases, we also recognise the importance of (Singapore) maintaining a consistent pipeline of events throughout the year,” said 21 Carpenter’s Mr Kalra.

“A more balanced mix of event types would further enhance our ability to cater to various guest preferences and maintain steadier occupancy levels.” - The Straits Times/ANN

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Singapore , Big Boost , Tourism , Class One , Concerts


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