Thousands of Americans are flying to Europe for Taylor Swift – groupies are changing travel forever

Thousands of Taylor Swift fans who couldn't make it to last year's U.S. tour or didn't want to pay exorbitantly priced tickets are flying to Europe.

The star kicks off the record-setting 18-city European leg of the Hellas Tour in Paris on Thursday, with Swifties set to follow on planes in the coming weeks.

At the arena where Swift will perform, Americans reportedly purchased 20% of the tickets for her four sold-out performances.Approximately 10,000 concertgoers from the United States are expected at Stockholm, the next stop on the tour.

A concert may seem like an odd raison d'être for visiting a foreign country, but online travel company Expedia notes that, observing a pattern that emerged during Beyoncé's renaissance era, trips to the continent by Swift fans are It is part of a larger trend called “tour tourism.” World tour.

For some North American fans who plan to fly overseas for the Ella Tour, severe restrictions on ticket prices and resale in Europe mean seeing Swift perform abroad is less likely than seeing her closer to home. He said he justified the expense by realizing it didn't cost anything and could even be cheaper.

Immediate effects of tourism (Associated Press)

“They say, 'Wait a minute, you can either spend $1,500 and go see your favorite artist in Miami, or you can use that $1,500 to buy concert tickets, round-trip airfare, and three nights in a hotel. Melanie Fish, Expedia spokesperson and travel expert, said:

That was the experience of Jennifer Warren, 43, who lives in St. Catharines, a city in the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada. She and her 11-year-old son love Swift, but have had trouble getting what they consider to be affordable tickets in the United States. Undeterred, Warren and her husband decided to plan a vacation in Europe wherever they could find seats. I looked it up and it was Hamburg, Germany.

“There's a lot to be gained by being able to go out and see the world and see your favorite artists and performers at the same time,” said Warren, director of research and innovation. For mutual insurance companies.

The three VIP tickets she secured near the stage cost 600 euros (approximately $646) each, “which you could call brute force and dumb luck.” Swift then announced six November tour dates in Toronto, within driving distance of her home in Warren. Warren said the “absolute nosebleed sheet” is already being sold on secondary resale sites such as Viagogo for C$3,000 ($2,194).

It's not a new phenomenon for devoted fans to follow their favorite singers and bands on tour. “Groupie” emerged in the late 1960s as a somewhat derogatory term for ardent followers of his rock band. Deadheads set out on a journey following the Grateful Dead from city to city in his 1970s.

More recently, music festivals such as Coachella in California and Glastonbury in the UK, as well as concert residencies in Las Vegas by the likes of Elton John, Lady Gaga and Adele, are drawing travelers to places they might not otherwise visit. .

Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden (Associated Press)

Travel and entertainment analysts have also spoken of pent-up demand from consumers for experiences over material goods since the coronavirus pandemic. Some believe that music lovers' drive to broaden their fan base is part of the same popular culture correction.

“This seems to be more than just a structural change, it's probably a personality change that we've all experienced,” said Natalia Lekmanova, chief economist at Mastercard Europe.

As Swift hopscotches across Europe, Lekmanova expects a similar economic stimulus to restaurants and hotels that Mastercard observed within a 2.5-mile radius of concert venues in U.S. cities it visited in 2023. I expect it to happen. The strength of the US dollar against the euro could also increase retail spending. The Economist said of apparel, memorabilia, beauty products and consumables for friendship bracelets that fans will exchange as part of the Elas Tour experience.

Former college roommates Lizzie Hale, 34, of Los Angeles, and Mitch Golding, 33, of Austin, Texas, had already decided last summer to get tickets to Paris. I had tickets to the Elas tour in LA. Like London or Edinburgh. They were considering a concert trip in Europe to make up for travel plans they had planned in May 2020 to celebrate Golding's birthday but had to be canceled due to the pandemic. .

Golding managed to secure VIP tickets to one of Swift's three shows in Stockholm. He, Hale, and two other of his friends planned his 10-day trip, which included Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

“As someone who enjoys traveling and who enjoys music, if I can find an opportunity to combine the two, it’s really special,” said Hale, who is pregnant with her first child.

European tour dates:

The impact on local economies of what Zeitgeist has dubbed “Swiftnomics” and “Swiftrift” could be substantial. Airbnb reported on Tuesday that searches on its platform for the British cities where Swift will perform in June and August (Edinburgh, Liverpool, Cardiff and London) increased by an average of 337 percent when tickets went on sale last summer.

The real estate rental company, which is no stranger to spotting trends, cited the demand as an example of “passion tourism,” or travel “driven by concerts, sports, and other cultural events.”

Stockholm is expected to see 120,000 expats from 130 countries flock to the Swedish capital this month, including 10,000 Americans, said Karl Bergqvist, chief economist at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce. . Stockholm is the only Scandinavian city on Swift's tour, and the airline has added additional flights from neighboring Denmark, Finland and Norway to bring people to the May 17-19 show, he said. said.

Bergqvist said the city's 40,000 hotel rooms are sold out, even though room rates have soared to coincide with tour dates. Concertgoers are expected to pump around SEK 500 million, or more than $46 million, into the local economy during their stay, but this estimate does not include the cost of Swift's tickets or travel to Sweden. He says there is no.

“This is therefore going to be a huge deal for the tourism sector in Sweden and Stockholm in particular,” Bergqvist said.

Taylor Swift performs during Elas Tour at Nissan Stadium in Nashville in May 2023 (Associated Press)

Nightclubs, restaurants, and bars are seizing the opportunity to cater to fans with Taylor Swift-themed events, including karaoke, quizzes, and post-concert dance parties.

Houston resident Caroline Matlock, 29, saw Swift more than a year ago when the Elas Tour came to the Texas city. Now she's making more of her friendship bracelets and trying to learn some Swedish in preparation for her three-and-a-half hour show in Stockholm. The idea of ​​meeting Swift in Europe belonged to a friend of hers, and Matlock needed some convincing at first.

“I was like, 'If there's a country I've never been to, I want to go.' I've seen Taylor Swift,” she said.

Visits to the Swedish cities Oslo and Gothenburg are included in the itinerary. The concert will be the last night of the trip, and Matlock is looking forward to interacting with Swifties from other countries. “Americans in particular tend to have a culture that's very obsessed with anything Taylor Swift related, so I'm curious to see if audiences will be more nervous.”

It remains to be seen whether the music tourism trend will be as long and strong as Swift and Beyoncé, and whether it will carry over to Billie Eilish, Usher, and other artists scheduled to tour the world next year. . Expedia's Fish believes other big-name acts in Europe this summer will prove that booking international travel for concerts is popular.

Kat Morga, a Nashville-based travel consultant, isn't so sure. Morga saw Swift perform in Nashville last year and helped two clients with school-age children book a family trip to Europe this summer that included a Swift concert. But she believes the difficulty of navigating language barriers, currency conversion, international banking regulations and the risk of cancellation to purchase tickets will limit the appeal of regular live travel. Masu.

“I think this is abnormal,” Morga said. “Typically, people don't plan a $20,000 family vacation just because Taylor Swift is there. She's once in a lifetime. She's special.”

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