The Swifties Are Going to Europe, and Tourism Will Never Be the Same

The pop megastar's become a global economic juggernaut, and everyone wants a share of the shimmer.

taylor swift eras tour europe travel contiki
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist | Getty Images
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist | Getty Images

There’s really nowhere on the internet where you can avoid Taylor Swift right now—maybe to her detriment—and with the Oceania, Asia and Europe legs of her globe-spanning world tour set to run through mid-August, there will soon be very few places on the planet where her presence won’t be felt either.

Doubtful of that? For the US leg of the Eras tour, the economic impact of Swift's fans was so significant that Mastercard's Economic Institute just dubbed it "the Swift Lift." Swift's fans are willing to spend in a volume and with a commitment that has drawn the attention of every possible associated industry, with everyone hoping to get a share of the shimmer.

According to the institute's recent report, Swift's fans generated over $100 million worth of incremental restaurant sales for 20 concert venues during the Eras tour alone. Tour-goers spent an average of $1,300 on travel, hotels, food, and merchandise, according to the US Travel Association. Even the NFL has benefitted, drawing in new viewers and generating plenty of jersey sales in the wake of Swift's relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

The cultural investment in Swift goes so deep that it has spawned a cottage industry of wholly new travel and experience offerings. Fans can now take part in multiple (unofficial) Taylor Swift-themed cruises and dedicated Taylor Swift walking tours of New York City. Everyone from airlines and hotels to tourism boards are performing public displays of fandom to try and sway fans. American Airlines named one of its flights headed to the Super Bowl after Taylor (AA1989, after her album 1989). On Airbnb, you can find special Taylor Swift-themed rentals in cities like Nashville and Phoenix.

For the European leg of the Eras tour, group travel company Contiki is taking it a step further. Knowing that fans are willing to go long distances in order to see their favorite artist in concert, the company specializing in group travel for people between the ages of 18 and 35 (i.e. Swift's core fan demographic), is offering new packages that are specifically pegged to five upcoming Swift tour dates.

The packages offer nine to 14 additional days of travel with fellow Swifties surrounding an Eras tour stop. And while these Contiki tours will still offer a lot of the same attractions and destinations as their traditional itineraries, the entire experience was planned with the Taylor Swift fan in mind.

"We've specifically timed [these tours] to match up with Taylor's Eras tour," Lottie Norman, Contiki's chief marketing officer, told Thrillist. "The idea is that they will either start following the night of the show or end before she takes the stage."

The first of the five Swiftie Contiki itineraries, European Magic, will traverse seven countries across nine days between May 12 and 21, just on the heels of Swift's Paris concerts. The tour is currently on sale for $1,636 on the Contiki website, and includes eight nights of accommodations, eight breakfasts, and three dinners. Additional itineraries coincide with the Eras tour stops in Stockholm, London, and Dublin.

"The idea is that if anyone travels into Europe for the gigs, they can then tag on these specific tours and their idea is that you meet like-minded people," Norman said. "So you'll be traveling with other Swifties, you can share your experiences whilst also getting more out of your travel experience as well."

Norman explained that these tours will include Taylor-specific elements throughout, including a Taylor Swift-inspired rendition of the day song that tour leaders sing in the morning to kick off the day’s activities and time to make friendship bracelets.

"The notion really is that it's kind of a hint of Taylor throughout the tour," Norman said. "It really is about the travel experience and bonding with like-minded people."

That urge to find like-minded people, to share the experience of enjoying what you love, hasn’t been limited to Taylor Swift fans. Many fans are already contemplating going into debt or spending an entire tax return on the off chance that Beyoncé will be launching a second tour in as many years for the just-announced Act II. The phenomenon extends beyond music fandom, too—the percentage of Americans who plan on taking a pop culture trip has doubled in the last year from 22% to 40%, according to a recent study from TripIt.

With major pop stars like Swift, there's an added urgency in the experience, a moment fans don't want to miss. It's resulting in people spending in ways they maybe otherwise wouldn't. "If you want to go see Taylor Swift, you have to figure out how to make that happen," Michelle Meyer, chief economist and head of the Mastercard Economics Institute, told Thrillist in an interview.

Even after the Swift-aligned Contiki trips end in late August and the megastar wraps yet another leg of her massive Eras tour, don't expect the craze to come to an end in the foreseeable future. The question is: Are you ready for it?

"There's still lots left to go in terms of Taylor Swift being influential, not only in terms of her tour that's scheduled for this year, but her release of a new album that she just announced," Meyer explained. "There's still so much momentum just in terms of seeing this through for the next year to two years, if not longer."

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in Journalism from NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She's worked in digital media for eight years, and before working at Thrillist, she wrote for Mic, The Cut, The Fader, Vice, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.