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WSET to open first international office in Hong Kong

Published:  26 October, 2016

The leading education body for wines and spirits in the UK has announced plans to open a second administrative base in Hong Kong in order to meet growing demand from greater China.

On November 10, the official opening of WSET Asia Pacific - the WSET's first international office -will be marked with a traditional suckling pig at the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair.

WSET chief executive Ian Harris said the uptake of courses in Hong Kong over the past ten years has been "phenomenal", and the decision to base an office there reflects growing demand from the region.

The WSET saw a record number of 72,171 candidates taking up courses globally during the academic year 2015/16.

After the UK, China has overtaken the USA to be the second biggest market for WSET and the largest growth market, with candidate numbers for 2015/16 up 38% on the previous year and course registrations for 2016/17 showing no signs of slowing.

The Wan Chai office will be staffed by a team of four with operations focusing on providing support to WSET's local network of course providers, educators and corporate partners.

Plans are being put in place to expand operations to include examination support in the future.

"The decision to open an administrative office in Hong Kong was taken last year, as it will enable us to better serve the community across Asia," Harris said.

"There is a new wave of younger millennials in China, and across Asia, who are interested in wine and spirits, so we are stepping in to further enhance the service we provide to support our providers in the region, as well as businesses who will benefit from wine and spirit education and qualifications."

WSET began offering courses in China in 2006, and now over 130 approved providers offer courses across the region serving the beverage and hospitality industries and wine and spirit enthusiasts.

Amanda Longworth, head of marketing and wine services at Berry Bros. & Rudd Ltd Hong Kong, said: "The education of the trade contributes positively to the industry as a whole, as their [the WSET's] knowledge and expertise helps to refine and develop consumer choices - an essential quality in developing markets. The detailed yet straightforward presentation of all concepts in the syllabus provides an excellent core of knowledge. This then serves as a solid foundation as students continue to explore the world of wine."