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WSET opens first international office in Hong Kong

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WSET meets increasing demand for wine and spirit education in Greater China

On 10 November 2016, WSET will mark the official opening of its first international office in Hong Kong, WSET Asia Pacific, in response to high demand for wine and spirit education across Greater China.

WSET is the largest global provider of wines and spirits qualifications, with a record 72,171 candidates during the academic year 2015/16. Following 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.

As demand continues to increase, WSET prioritised Hong Kong for the opening of its first international office to better meet the needs of the region. 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, as well as the growing WSET alumni community. Plans are being put in place to expand operations to include examination support in the future.

The official opening will be marked with a traditional suckling pig on 10 November 2016 at Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair.

Ian Harris, WSET Chief Executive, says: “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.

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.

Ian Harris, WSET Chief Executive


Amanda Longworth, Head of Marketing and Wine Services at Berry Bros. & Rudd Ltd Hong Kong, comments, “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.”

Lu Yang, WSET diploma graduate and Corporate Wine Director at Shangri-La International Hotel Management Ltd., says “WSET education has been extremely valuable for my career and is an important qualification for anyone who wishes to get into the wine or hospitality industries. It enabled me to establish a good foundation early on in my wine studies, and I believe is essential training within Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Group, for both our sommeliers and our floor staff. The syllabus is well-defined and progressive at each level, balancing knowledge with tasting experience, with an active team that constantly updates the course to make best-in-class education. With more demand for courses and more programme providers opening, it will be fantastic for WSET to have a team on the ground locally to make sure every WSET provider and educator is meeting the high standards of the most recognised wine education body in the world.”

Jennie Mack, WSET diploma graduate and Managing Director and Senior Wine Educator at AWSEC, a WSET APP, says, “When we started offering wine courses and events in 1994, it was a time when wine was enjoyed by far less people than now. Today, the wine and spirits industry is truly an exciting sector to be involved in and AWSEC has grown into a large team with dynamic leadership and dedicated educators, wine buyers, client service officers, marketing and accounting professionals. As the longest serving APP in Hong Kong, AWSEC offers WSET courses on a regular basis, attracting students from all walks of life, some for pure interest, some for a career change or some to enter the wine and spirits industry. Now with the presence and support of a WSET office in Hong Kong, AWSEC can continue to nurture interest and expertise to increase knowledge among consumers and professionals across Asia. We are proud to see our graduates become influential professionals in the role of wine and spirits importers, retailers, sommeliers and writers as well as knowledgeable and enthusiastic consumers!”