Singapore plays down payment to Taylor Swift amid grumbles from neighbours

City-state’s culture minister says grant given to pop icon ‘not anywhere as high as speculated’.

Taylor Swift
About 300,000 fans have booked tickets for Taylor Swift's six shows in Singapore [File: Rahman/AFP]

Singapore has downplayed the size of a grant it paid Taylor Swift after the city-state’s efforts to lure the pop icon led to complaints from regional neighbours.

Singapore’s Culture Minister Edwin Tong said on Monday that speculation about the size of the grant was “not accurate”.

“I can say that it is not accurate and not anywhere as high as speculated, but due to business confidentiality, we cannot reveal the specific size and conditions of the grant,” Tong told Parliament in response to questions from lawmakers.

Tong said the government was also confident that the economic benefits of Swift’s six concert dates in the city would be “significant and outweigh the size of the grant”.

Tong’s remarks come after Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin last month told a business forum that Singapore had paid Swift between $2m and $3m on the condition she not perform in any other country in Southeast Asia.

“If I had known this, I would have brought the shows to Thailand,” Srettha was quoted as saying in the Bangkok Post. “Concerts can generate added value for the economy.”

Philippine legislator Joey Salceda last week called on Manila to grill Singapore about the reported grant, saying such behaviour is “not what good neighbours do”.

Singapore officials had previously acknowledged offering Swift a grant to come to the city-state, without disclosing its terms, due to the benefits she would have on tourism-related sectors such as accommodation, retail and dining.

Singapore’s Channel News Asia has reported that hotels and airlines saw demand for flights and accommodation around the dates of the concerts jump by up to 30 percent.

Apart from four shows in Japan last month, Swift’s concerts in Singapore are the only stops she is making in Asia as part of her The Eras Tour.

The sold-out shows, which run until March 9, are being attended by some 300,000 fans, including those from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Swift, one of the most successful music artists of all time with 14 Grammy wins and hundreds of millions of album sales worldwide, performed the first of her Singapore concerts on Saturday, after wrapping up the Australian leg of her tour last week with a show in front of 81,000 fans at Sydney’s Accor Stadium.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies