Melbourne, 4 October 2011 | Tennis Australia

The Australian Open Trophy Tour will make its first stop in China next week.

This will be the first year the Trophy Tour has gone off shore and Wuhan, Shanghai and Beijing will welcome the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup and the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy over the next three weeks.

But organisers have foreshadowed even greater expansion of the tour in ensuing years with plans for more stops in China, India, Korea and Japan.

“As the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific we recognise the enormous amount of interest in the Australian Open from Asia in general and China specifically,” Tennis Australia CEO Steve Wood said.

“Taking the Trophy Tour across China later this month was a logical next step in the deeper engagement of our event with the region. It is an exciting move and it is clear to us from the work we have been doing in Asia that there is untapped potential for Australia businesses, Tennis Australia and Government to work together in the region to our mutual benefit.”

The Australian Open is already big business in Asia with major contracts in broadcast, sponsorship and ticketing.

“We have a strategy designed to further increase our exposure and business activation in the region,” Tennis Australia Commercial Director Steve Ayles explained.

More than 307.6 million TV viewers watched the event in 2012, with more than 186.3 million located within the Asia-Pacific region.

“The growth of interest from Asia in both the Australian Open and the sport has been substantial and we want to further stimulate that for the benefit of our event, domestic tourism and indeed for a commercial return that can be invested in Australian tennis,” Ayles said.