Visits by Chinese tourists boomed in 2014

Last July, photographer Hubert Kang followed a Chinese tour group as the made their away around Stanley Park for our story “The Chinese Are Coming”.

A boom in Chinese tourists, layoffs and trouble for a mining magnate

A good year for tourism
The number of Chinese visitors to B.C. increased 26 per cent in 2014 over 2013, as part of an all-around increase in the number of international visitors to B.C. last year. Those numbers, coupled with low fuel and a weak Canadian dollar, are churning optimism in B.C.’s tourism sector. While 53,000 more Chinese tourists visited B.C. in 2014 over 2013thanks in large part to Canada’s status as an “approved destination” by the Chinese government—other markets also saw growth: visitors from Japan increased 12.2 per cent (thanks to new flights) and Australians increased 5 per cent. The number of American tourists, who still make up the majority of visitors to B.C., increased by 3.3 per cent. In sum, international visitors to B.C. increased 5.3 per cent in 2014 over the year prior.

Ivanhoe files for bankruptcy protection
Ivanhoe Energy, the oil company founded by mining billionaire Robert Friedland, said Friday that it plans to file for bankruptcy protection. Hit by its laggard oil sands investments, the Vancouver company decided to file for protection after it was unable to make a payment on $73 million bond issue. Friedland, a prominent financier and founder of Ivanhoe Mines, recently provided the company with a $2.37 million bridge loan. Bankruptcy protection gives the company six months to cut costs and restructure its operations (or find new financing). If unsuccessful, Ivanhoe is at the mercy of its creditors.

A bad year for miners (and their suppliers)
Vancouver-based Caterpillar dealer Finning International announced Friday that it plans to lay off 500 people, or nine per cent of its Canadian workforce, in light of a weak market for heavy equipment in the mining and energy sectors. That news came tucked into the company’s 2014 financial report, which showed that Finning finished the year with a profit, despite laggard commodity prices that have cut demand for their products in North and South America, its largest markets. Finning, known locally for its former ownership of a large swath of the False Creek flats, finished the year with a two per cent increase in revenue ($6.9 billion) and a 5 per cent drop in profit ($318 million).