2024 Dragon Boat Festival holiday: travel trends, box office, and mugwort bouquets

The three-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday, which just passed (8-10 June), saw a steady performance in China’s tourism market but a disappointing box office for films. However, the popularity of mugwort bouquets was an unexpected blessing. The Dragon Boat Festival is one of China’s major traditional festivals, falling on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar.

1. Domestic tourism proceeds smoothly, on par with 2023 performance

According to the data centre of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, during the three-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday, China’s domestic tourism outings totalled 110 million trips, with domestic tourists spending a total of 40.35 billion RMB (approx. 5.57 billion USD). Compared with the Dragon Boat Festival holiday in 2023, which saw 106 million domestic trips and revenue of 37.31 billion RMB (approx. 5.15 billion USD), the performance of the domestic tourism industry in the last two years has essentially been the same.

Compared with the recently concluded May Day and Qingming holidays, the three-day festivities continued the trend of travelling to small cities. The 2024 Dragon Boat Festival Holiday Travel Consumption Report released by LY.com showed that during the holiday, the popularity of travel bookings in many third and fourth-tier cities in China more than doubled year-on-year. The hit drama ‘To the Wonder’ made local tourism in Altay popular fast, with hotel bookings in Altay during the Dragon Boat Festival increasing by 186% year-on-year.

2. Poor film box office and lack of quality content

According to Taopiaopiao, by midday on 10 June, the 2024 Dragon Boat Festival box office (including pre-sales) reached 300 million RMB (approx. 41.4 million USD), a significant drop from last year’s 909 million RMB (approx. 127.26 million USD). The leading film in 2023 was “Lost in the Stars,” which made 507 million RMB (approx. 70 million USD) at the box office, achieving the second-highest Dragon Boat Festival box office in history.

The 2021 and 2022 Dragon Boat Festival box offices totalled 468 million and 179 million RMB (approx. 64.6 billion and 24.7 million USD) respectively, though 2022’s performance was exceptionally low due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Clearly, this year’s Dragon Boat Festival films lacked market appeal.

3. Mugwort bouquets as a Trend

The symbols of the Dragon Boat Festival include dragon boat racing and eating zongzi, but there is also the tradition of hanging mugwort and wearing scented sachets made from the plant. The distinctive aroma of mugwort can repel mosquitoes and symbolises ‘peace and well-being’.

Influenced by the rise of national trends, this year’s Dragon Boat Festival saw a surge in popularity for new Chinese-style mugwort door hangings across offline shops, e-commerce sites, and social media. Originally, mugwort only costs 2 or 3 RMB per bundle. Mugwort bouquets, after being decorated by florists with five-coloured tassels, lucky cards, and other Chinese accessories, sold for hundreds of RMB per unit.

This trend mainly originated from netizens’ endorsements on Xiaohongshu (RED), where high-value, new-style door hangings have become a popular feature in festive photos shared on social media. Such product innovation not only continues the tradition of the Dragon Boat Festival but also caters to the aesthetics of young people, inspiring new commercial vitality.


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