Touring overseas will help the Hong Kong Philharmonic reach its potential as one of the world's best orchestras. That's the view of its music director Jaap van Zweden, who received a boost yesterday when his appointment was extended by three years. The orchestra had greatly improved in the two years since van Zweden had joined, said the chairman of the orchestra's board of governors, Liu Yuen-sung, in announcing the extension. "I hope this is the beginning of a long, long relationship," added Liu. Van Zweden joined the orchestra in 2012 on a four-year basis, but the extension means he will stay until at least 2019, overseeing a period that will include a number of overseas tours. Van Zweden said he felt at home in Hong Kong and was "extremely happy" with his relationship with the city's audience. However, he said that for the orchestra to reach its potential as one of the best in the world, overseas tours were essential. "International tours are a very important future step for our orchestra," said van Zweden. "If you want an international name and an international sound, you should go on tour." The orchestra will tour Europe in February and March next year, performing in cities including London, Zurich and Berlin, according to Michael MacLeod, the chief executive of Hong Kong Philharmonic. Van Zweden described the Hong Kong Philharmonic as a young, flexible, orchestra. "We're still in the process of fine-tuning things," he said, adding that his role as a conductor was "to bring out the talents, make the diamonds shine". The orchestra, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in January, will perform Das Rheingold , part of Wagner's Ring Cycle, at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in January next year. It will be the first time a Chinese philharmonic orchestra has performed the opera.