As demand for Burgundy wines heats up in China, the French region has opened a representative office in Hong Kong to step up exports and promote tourism.
After six years in Singapore, the Regional Council of Burgundy has moved its only office in Asia to Hong Kong.
The council said it aimed to build upon the region's image as a centre of fine wines to expand other exports and tourism. "Wine exports are already growing … so we will focus on showing the excellence of other industries," the council's vice-president of international development, Safia Otokore, said yesterday. "We want to introduce the Burgundy lifestyle and boost tourism."
Last year, Hong Kong imported 1.2 million bottles of Burgundy wines, a 25.3 per cent increase from 2011.
Hong Kong and the mainland imported wine valued at €34 million (HK$345 million), making China the fourth-biggest export location for Burgundy after the United States, Britain and Japan. In terms of value, imports to Hong Kong made up three-quarters of that to the whole of China.
From 2010 to last year, the number of Chinese visitors who stayed overnight in Burgundy grew from 38,000 to 70,000. "It's an easy access from Paris. We have three Unesco heritage sites … and castles from the 14th and 15th centuries," Otokore said.
The region was seeking to cater to the shopping needs of the Chinese, train tourism representatives to speak Putonghua and Cantonese, and compile a guide to Chinese restaurants in the area, she said. Burgundy's Hong Kong office will also help its 58,000 small and medium enterprises enter the Asia market.
Last year, Burgundy exports to Hong Kong and the mainland reached €32 million and €432 million, respectively. The exports included hi-tech machinery, luxury products and furniture.