Melbourne, Oct 10 (IANS) The 2017 Australian Open will be more accessible for tennis fans in Asia and the Pacific than ever before, tournament directors said on Monday.
For the first time, Tennis Australia (TA) will promote the tournament by hosting major event launches for the Grand Slam tournament, the first of the calendar year, in China, Singapore and Japan, reports Xinhua.
TA ticket websites will now be published in Mandarin and Japanese and broadcast deals will be expanded into Asia, via radio and television. China will show the Open on CCTV, Shanghai TV and Iqiyi.
"The Australian Open' s profile as the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific has been in place for more than 15 years. This is a long-term strategy to invest in the growth of the sport and our events in the region and we are always seeking new promotional opportunities," Craig Tiley, director of the tournament, said at the official launch here.
Tiley announced a number of initiatives aimed at harnessing the Asian market including the most extensive broadcast deals in the region in the event' s history and multi-language websites allowing Chinese and Japanese tennis fans to access tickets more easily.
"Independent tourism continues to increase and we want to make it easier than ever for our international fans to access the Australian Open," Tiley said.
"Our broadcast reach in the region continues to expand with China and Japan among our biggest markets, and ongoing negotiations with a number of broadcasters.
"We are the most relatable of the Grand Slam events in this region. The time zone works for attracting viewers on television and Australia is not that far away.
"In this digital age you can access tickets to the Australian Open from anywhere in the world and create your own experience. This is a big target market for us and we are using a variety of platforms to reach it."
Of the 720,363 people who attended the 2016 Australian Open, 13 per cent came from overseas and injected $ 211 million into Victoria' s economy.
"These numbers prove that our ongoing focus on in-bound tourism, particularly in the Asia Pacific region, is paying dividends and contributing incredible economic benefits to Melbourne and Victoria," Tiley said.
Philip Dalidakis, Victoria' s Acting Minister for Tourism and Major Events, said the Victorian government was fully committed to continuing support for the event.
"This is exactly why cities around the globe dream of hosting world class events like a tennis grand slam," Dalidakis said.
"Visitors from all over the world make their way to Victoria to see for themselves why we are the sporting capital. It brings opportunities for our visitor economy and more jobs for Victorians".
Tiley confirmed that the top 100 men's and women's players in the world had committed to competing at the 2017 Australian Open, including China' s Shuai Zhang and Qiang Wang and new event ambassador Kei Nishikori.
"All the top players have confirmed they'll be back in Melbourne in January," he said.
"We are incredibly fortunate to be really the only sporting event in the country where we get the chance to see the very best in the world compete right here in Melbourne."
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic said the Australian Open would always be of special significance to him.
"The Australian Open is where I achieved my first Grand Slam success and it will always hold a very special place in my heart. Since I won for the first time in 2008, I'm always amazed at the wonderful warm welcome I receive every time I come back, it's a bit like coming home," Djokovic said in a statement.