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Last Updated: Monday, 24 January, 2005, 22:18 GMT
China market fruitful for whisky
Whisky bottling plant
Exports to China are important to the Scottish whisky industry
Whisky sales in China increased by 137% in less than 12 months, new figures have revealed.

Between January and October, 2004, an extra 3.7 million bottles were sold, compared with the same period in 2003.

The figure emerged as Enterprise Minister Jim Wallace launched a book of Robert Burns poetry translated into Chinese to mark Burns Night in Beijing.

Mr Wallace is there leading a charm offensive to boost Scotland's prospects in China.

The Scottish Executive has stepped up its promotion efforts in the country following an agreement allowing the Chinese to come to Scotland as tourists following the removal of travel restrictions.

Whisky and Burns are just two of the great assets Scotland has to offer the Chinese
Jim Wallace
Enterprise Minister
Mr Wallace said whisky sales in China had boomed since tariff liberalisation and that the removal of tourism barriers would open the way for a similar success story in Scotland.

Speaking in Beijing, he said: "Two of our greatest assets are already hugely popular with the Chinese.

"Sales of whisky continue to grow at a fantastic rate. China is a top priority market for the scotch whisky industry and there has been a rapid growth in sales since tariff liberalisation began in 2000 once China joined the World Trade Organisation."

Mr Wallace added that Burns was "far from an unknown quantity" in China.

'Huge opportunity'

He said: "Songs such as Auld Lang Syne are very well known and feature prominently at celebrations such as the Chinese New Year, weddings and graduations.

"I know the book of translated poetry will be well received by our guests in Beijing."

Mr Wallace continued: "Whisky and Burns are just two of the great assets Scotland has to offer the Chinese.

"We will be using them, and a whole lot of other things, such as our vibrant cities, our stunning countryside and our world famous golf courses as we look to exploit the huge opportunity provided by last week's agreement that Chinese tourists can now travel to Scotland."

Gain qualifications

Mr Wallace also announced that Glasgow School of Art had forged an agreement with a college in China to educate up to 100 of its students.

They will complete their course in Glasgow if they pass their first year in Beijing.

The executive hopes that a growing number of students will choose Scotland as a place to gain qualifications.

On Friday it was announced Approved Destination Status between the UK and China had been granted, meaning tourists from designated Chinese regions could travel on a leisure tourism visa.

Previously, only business visitors and students were allowed to come to the UK.

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21 Apr 04 |  Scotland

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