WSET reports strong demand from China

New figures from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) have revealed that demand for education in China is higher than in any other region in the world, for both wines and spirits.

The WSET is reporting a record 94,822 candidates globally in the academic year finishing 31 July 2018, an increase of 11% over 2017.

China alone recorded 21,986 candidates during the academic year, which is about 9% more compared with last year, the highest among all countries, the WSET has announced.

Mainland China was the key source of growth, with candidate numbers up by 18% to 15,177. There were also a further 3,954 wine and spirits candidates in Hong Kong, 347 in Macau and 2,508 in Taiwan.

The availability of WSET courses in China is stronger than ever. This is largely thanks to the expanded operational presence of the WSET’s team working from the WSET Asia Pacific office in Hong Kong.

Overall, there are now 175 authorised teachers (APPs) offering WSET qualifications to trade professionals and consumer enthusiasts in China, and more than 800 globally across 70 countries.

According to the WSET, in addition to strong growth for wine education, spirits is a new sector that has registered strong interest in China.

Overall, the WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits was the qualification that saw the highest rise in admissions in the country, with candidate numbers up by 147% over last year.

Recognising the importance of the key Asian spirits baiju, shochu and soju to the spirits market, the WSET will be introducing these three Asian spirits into the syllabus for the new WSET Level 3 Award in Spirits when it launches next year.

WSET chief executive Ian Harris, said: “2017/18 has been another successful year for the WSET as we continue to strengthen our offer to maintain our ‘best in class’ reputation. Global demand makes wine education the bread and butter of our business, but it is great to see such high growth in spirits qualifications as we prepare for the launch of the first WSET Level 3 Award in Spirits.”

“China is the WSET’s strongest international market and our WSET Asia Pacific team, led by Jude Mullins, is at full strength to meet the growing demand for wine and spirits education across the region.”

In addition to China, other top markets for WSET eduction are Brazil and the UAE, both of which have made it onto the list of top 10 markets.

With the highest growth of all the top markets (+75%), Brazil’s rise is backed by a rapid increase in the number of candidates taking entry-level wine qualifications. Brazil’s Eno Cultura, winner of the WSET’s Educator of the Year Award 2017, has been spreading WSET course availability across the country.

The UAE has seen a significant boost in WSET candidate numbers for both wine and spirits qualifications (+40%), largely driven by the thriving hospitality scene centred around Dubai.

The WSET welcomed more than 110 new APPs during the past academic year, and new course launches in Gibraltar and Uruguay.

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