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Cities up stakes for A-list tours in tourism push

The economic benefits of tours by superstars such as Coldplay and Taylor Swift are making them prime targets for investment

By James Hanley on 09 Jul 2024

Coldplay in Perth

image © Anna Lee Media

As A-list tours become increasingly hot commodities in cities’ efforts to boost tourism, it has emerged the Western Australian government paid A$8 million to subsidise two Coldplay concerts.

The band played two nights at Perth’s Optus Stadium – their first gigs in Western Australia since 2009 – in November 2023 as part of their Music of the Spheres World Tour, in what was hailed as a “major tourism coup” for the country’s fourth most populous city.

Presented by the WA government, through Tourism WA, and Live Nation, the Australian-exclusive gigs were promoted alongside hotel packages designed to encourage visitors to stay longer in Perth and explore the region further, creating additional economic benefits.

A new Guardian report has revealed that $8m (€5m) was paid to Live Nation in relation to the performances, which Tourism WA said injected “tens of millions of visitor spend” into the state’s economy. The body said the award followed “a rigorous assessment, cost benefit analysis, review and approvals process, including review and approval by the Tourism WA Board, Treasury and final sign off by the minister for tourism and premier”.

Coldplay are returning to Australia and New Zealand this October and November to perform in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland.

It follows a similar disclosure around Coldplay’s four nights in Portugal at the 50,000-cap Estádio Cidade de Coimbra in Portugal in May last year. The concerts attracted controversy when it was revealed promoter Everything is New would receive €440,000 from the municipality and was exempted from “municipal fees and prices” for the shows. The authority also spent €28,000 on restoring the stadium’s pitch.

In return, the promoter had to ensure the council was included as a partner on press materials and within press communications, among other obligations. Coimbra City Council mayor José Manuel Silva called the agreement “one of the best deals ever in this area”, which he said would “place the city on the route of major world events”.

The shows were attended by 211,000 fans overall, generating €36 million for the local economy, with each visitor spending an average of €180, concluded a study by the Instituto Superior de Contabilidade e Administração de Coimbra (ISCAC).

The Singapore Tourism Board authorised a grant for Taylor Swift to perform six nights at Singapore National Stadium in March 2024

In another high-profile case earlier this year, Singapore reportedly struck an exclusivity deal with Taylor Swift to make the island nation her only Eras tour stop in south-east Asia.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) authorised a grant for Swift to perform six nights at the 55,000-cap Singapore National Stadium in March 2024, allegedly on the condition she would not play any other countries in the region.

Thai PM Srettha Thavisin alleged the Singapore government offered $2 million to $3m (€1.4m to €2.1m) per show for exclusive rights, after enquiring why the tour would not be stopping in Thailand.

“[Promoter AEG] didn’t tell me the exact figure but they said the Singapore government offers subsidies of between $2m and $3m,” said Srettha. “But the Singaporean government is clever. They told [organisers] not to hold any other shows in [south-east] Asia.”

In a joint statement, the culture ministry and the STB admitted working directly with concert organisers, but declined to confirm either the amount of the grant or the existence of an exclusivity deal.

“It is likely to generate significant benefits to the Singapore economy, especially to tourism activities such as hospitality, retail, travel and dining, as has happened in other cities in which Taylor Swift has performed,” they said at the time.


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