Hong Kong — once Asia’s hub for global entertainment — may be losing its crown to its neighbors as global superstars like Taylor Swift take their tours to cities like Singapore and Tokyo instead.
Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, Hong Kong Secretary for Culture, Sports, and Tourism, on Wednesday told legislators that he would consult with event organizers and venue managers on how to attract more talent to the city, as it aims to boost an economy still struggling after years of civil unrest and the COVID-19 slowdown.
Hong Kong logistics rather than geopolitics may be to blame
Hong Kong social-media users have blamed mainland China’s authoritarianism for deterring Western artists from performing in the city. In 2020 Beijing passed the Hong Kong National Security Law — draconian legislation that severely limits freedom of speech in the city. But the ”truth is far less exciting,” argued Adam Wright in Hong Kong Free Press, pointing instead to the city’s lack of suitable venue space. Swift’s Eras Tour requires stadiums, and Hong Kong’s 50,000-capacity Kai Tak Sports Park is still months away from completion, the website reported. The city’s extensive COVID-19 restrictions — some of the strictest in the world — were also only dropped at the beginning of the tour.
Swift dragged into Taiwan’s cross-strait politics too
Swift inadvertently became a key talking point ahead of this month’s Taiwan presidential election. During a Jan. 2 debate, Kuomintang’s vice-presidential candidate said that he invited Swift to perform in Taipei while still serving as chairman of Taiwan’s largest radio company, claiming she originally agreed but later turned down the offer due to ”geopolitical risks.” Swift’s team has not commented on the allegations, but Jaw tried to use the example to show voters how the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s provocative policies against China were damaging the island, Scoop Taiwan reported. China watchers tried to make light of the peculiar synchrony between pop culture and cross-strait relations. “Imagine a timeline in which Taylor Swift’s private jet [became] the target of a first strike over Taiwan and she became the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the 21st century,” wrote China Media Project editor Ryan Ho Kilpatrick.
Singapore eyes economic boost from Swift tour like other cities
Swift’s sold-out shows across the United States and Europe have been linked to regional economic boosts, largely fueled by a surge in travel costs and hotel reservations. That same impact is expected in Singapore when Swift arrives there in March, travel experts told The Straits Times, with over 200,000 fans from Singapore and across Southeast Asia expected to congregate in the city-state for Swift. Singapore is slowly emerging as one of Asia’s new entertainment hubs, with digital travel platform Agoda telling the paper it observed a 8.7-times search increase for accommodation in Singapore during Coldplay’s concert series starting Friday. The boost in interest shows the “undeniable power of music as a major travel motivator,” Agoda said.