The Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) has opened its first international office in response to a high demand for wine and spirits education globally.

The new WSET Asia Pacific is based in Hong Kong, in response to high demand across Greater China, according to the company.

WSET is the largest global provider of wines and spirits qualifications, with a record number of candidates during the academic year 2015/16. The provider said numbers for the UK are up 14% year-on-year, while China has seen growth of 38% year-on-year in candidates for its WSET courses.

Ian Harris, WSET chief executive, said, “We have provided WSET qualifications through providers in Hong Kong since the turn of the millennium, and the expansion into, and across mainland China over the past 10 years has been phenomenal. 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. 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. This is our first administration office outside the UK, and with the international growth of WSET growing at such a rate fast, I am sure it will not be our last.” 

WSET began offering courses in China in 2006, and now over 130 Approved Programme Providers (APPs) offer courses across the region serving the beverage and hospitality industries and wine and spirit enthusiasts. The full range of WSET courses is available from WSET Level 1 Awards in Wines, Spirits and Sake to the specialist Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits.

Amanda Longworth, Head of Marketing and Wine Services at Berry Bros. & Rudd Ltd Hong Kong, commented, “WSET offers one of the most valued forms of wine education in the market. 100% of our staff are qualified to WSET Level 3 or higher, which I believe provides them with a backbone of knowledge to provide the highest level of customer service. The education of the trade directly benefits their own business and contributes positively to the industry as a whole, as their 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.”