From Taylor Swift to the World Cup, travelers are paying big bucks to catch overseas games and shows

When Taylor Swift’s Eras tour rolls into Singapore next year, Rjay Ignacio said he’ll be there — whether he has a ticket or not.

“Taylor Swift has a huge fan base in Asia,” the YouTube content creator from Pasig City, Philippines said. “So the probability is very small to get a ticket.”

But that’s not stopping him from making travel plans, he said.  

“If I’m not able to get a ticket, I’m still going to Singapore,” he said. “I’m going to [the] parking lot just to hear and feel” the performance.

A growing trend

Traveling to attend events increased this year, according to a May report by Deloitte entitled “The Experience Economy Endures.”

Based on a survey of some 3,500 Americans, the report noted that the most common motivators to travel — spending time with loved ones and relaxation — have remained relatively steady.

“However, 2023 saw a jump in motivations likely suppressed by the pandemic — like special events and romantic getaways,” it said.

The pandemic halted travel and major sports and musical events, yet “there is definitely a rebound happening now,” said San Francisco resident Farhan Abrol, who attended the French Open and Wimbledon in the past month.

“I feel like luxury is a common reason to travel,” he said. Yet it’s “not something that seems to resonate with millennial ways to spend money.”

For this age group, he said it’s more about “stories over stuff.”

Traveling for the ‘best seats’

Bangkok resident Kanyarat Teawprasong secured tickets to see Swift perform in Singapore during a much maligned ticket pre-sale last week, where online queues topped more than 1 million.

Now she and her boyfriend are planning a three-day trip to Singapore, which will be her fifth time visiting the city-state — “always for concerts,” she said.

“The first stamp on my passport was for attending concerts,” she told CNBC Travel.

“I’m someone who really enjoys going to concerts, especially in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.”

Kanyarat Teawprasong, shown here at a Blackpink show, said “Besides participating in the concert, I also get to travel to different countries.”

Source: Kanyarat Teawprasong

Occasionally, some of her favorite groups come to Thailand, but she chooses to see them elsewhere for the travel experience, she said.

Plus, “sometimes the reason I attend concerts abroad is to secure the best seats.”

Big spenders

With more people willing to travel abroad for major events, cities that attract top-billed events like Singapore — Swift’s sole tour stop in Southeast Asia — will see millions in foreign cash flood into its hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.

Swifties, or Taylor Swift fans, spend an average of $1,330 on tickets, food and travel, according to the research company QuestionPro. But those traveling internationally are likely to spend much more, a fact exacerbated by rising travel costs, which often climb even higher around high-profile events.

Companies are springing up to cater to these travelers, packaging event tickets with hotel stays, meet-and-greets, golf and other activities.

The entertainment company Live Nation launched Vibee in April. It’s selling packages to attend Austin City Limits Music Festival in October (from $1,366), as well as a “VIP Experience” to attend U2:UV’s shows in Las Vegas later this year (from $1,535), according to its website.

Vibee’s VIP packages to Lollapalooza 2023, which will be held in Chicago’s Grant Park in August, have already sold out, according to its website.

Armando L. Sanchez | Chicago Tribune | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

“Some of our international curated events include Dancing on the Sand, a weekend getaway in the Bahamas headlined and curated by Lionel Richie,” Vibee’s president Harvey Cohen told CNBC Travel.

“We anticipate that the intersection of music and travel will only continue to strengthen.”

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