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The continuous summer heat in many parts of China has induced large numbers of people to travel to cooler climes overseas, according to the travel industry.
Online travel agency Ctrip estimates that about 300 million Chinese people will travel overseas during the summer, with about 1 million making the trip to avoid the heat.
"Popular overseas destinations for Chinese tourists to avoid summer heat not only include countries that are well-known for their comfortable temperatures during this season, such as Australia, New Zealand and Britain, but also include places that Chinese tourists know comparatively less about, like Africa," said Shi Yuduan, chief marketing officer of Ctrip's vacation department, adding that bookings for trips to escape the heat in July doubled that of June.
Many Chinese people believe that African countries are hot all year, but headlines in July indicating that some Africans were bothered by the hot weather in China changed their minds.
In a video that went viral last month, a young man from Ethiopia who was identified as Sami and works in Chongqing municipality, said summer in China is much hotter than in Ethiopia, which is in Northeast Africa.
"In my own country, we never use air conditioning in summer, as the highest temperature is only 27 or 28 C. But in Chongqing, it's 40 C," he said in the video, speaking Mandarin.
Data released by the China Meteorological Administration, China's weather authority, showed China has just experienced the hottest July since 1961, with the national average temperature reaching 23.2 C, higher than the 21.9 C national July average in recent decades.
Most places south of Qinling Mountains and the Huaihe River have been hit by nonstop high temperatures - more than 35 C - since July 11. Some, such as Tonglu, Zhejiang province, and Huoshan, Anhui province, had temperatures over 40 C, as did Chongqing.
Li Qiuyan, director of public relations at Lvmama, an online travel agency, said some African countries are in the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are opposite China's.
She added that trips to African destinations such as Mauritius, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa, which cost 10,000 to 20,000 yuan ($1,490 to $2,93000) and take about a week, are particularly well-received among Chinese tourists in the summer.
In addition, the desire to travel to Africa has been facilitated by the visa-free policies in countries such as Mauritius, Morocco and Tunisia, Li said, adding that bookings to Africa in summer on Lvmama have tripled last year's.