BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The continuous summer heat in many parts of China has led to increased travel to cooler climes overseas, according to the travel industry.
Online travel agency Ctrip estimates that about 30 million Chinese will travel overseas during the summer, with about a million making the trip to avoid the heat.
"Popular overseas destinations for Chinese tourists to avoid the 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 chief marketing officer Shi Yuduan of Ctrip's vacation department, adding that bookings for trips to escape the heat in July doubled from that of June.
Many Chinese 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 in July, a young man from Ethiopia, who was identified as Mr Sami and working in Chongqing municipality, said summer in China is much hotter than in Ethiopia, which is in north-east Africa.
"In my own country, we never use air-conditioning in summer, as the highest temperature is only 27 or 28 deg C. But in Chongqing, it's 40 deg C," he said in the video, speaking in Mandarin.
Data released by the China Meteorological Administration, China's weather authority, showed that China has just experienced the hottest July since 1961, with the national average temperature reaching 23.2 deg C, higher than the 21.9 deg C national July average in recent decades.
Most places south of Qinling Mountains and the Huaihe River have been hit by non-stop high temperatures - more than 35 deg C - since July 11. Some, such as Tonglu, Zhejiang province, and Huoshan, Anhui province, had temperatures over 40 deg C, as did Chongqing.
Ms 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 yuan (S$2,045) to 20,000 yuan 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, said Ms Li, adding that bookings to Africa in summer on Lvmama have trebled from last year.