The Financial Times reports on the visit of a Chinese Minister to Taiwan to discuss tourism.

However flowery the prose, Mr Shao is not a poet. In fact, he is tourism minister of China and his visit is all about business. He is on a 10-day trip, “inspecting” Taiwan’s most famous travel destinations and its tourist infrastructure. Taiwan’s government believes this means Beijing is preparing to make the island an official tourist destination for mainland citizens.

Thar’s gold in them thar furriners:

But analysts believe the real economic boost would come from Chinese tourists’ well-known passion for shopping for branded products. The Taiwan Economic Research Institute estimates that Chinese visitors could generate up to US$580m in annual retail sales in Taiwan.

“If the Chinese come, we will open several new retail outlets in Taipei and other cities,” says Ku Kuo-hua, a tea farmer from central Taiwan who grows the Formosa Oolong variety.

It is interesting to juxtapose the dreams of wealth mentioned in this article with one earlier this week on Chinese tourists and Kinmen from the Taipei Times:

Unfortunately, the windfall of Chinese visitors originally expected from the opening of postal, transport and travel links with China’s Fujian province has failed to materialize.

Politicians point to problems in policy that have hobbled the development of the island’s tourism industry, but local business leaders say economic factors are also to blame.

Who will opening up links benefit? There might be a boost from Chinese tourists. But I suspect that it will be much smaller than everyone expects.

UPDATE: 11/3 The BBC notes that MAC says it “regrets” the protests….

It said the government respected freedom of speech, but noted that the delegation had been formally invited to Taiwan by a private tourism association, and this had been approved by the government.

It said the delegates were guests in Taiwan and should be treated accordingly.

Yes, well, when our “guests” stop pointing missiles at us……