Ho Chi Minh City authorities have urged the Vietnam government to approach Thailand and other Mekong countries, with the aim of implementing a one-visa policy within the region to bring in more tourists.

The city is pressing for the campaign through the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the Saigon Times reported.

“We need support to call for participation of all five nations and adopt a visa-free policy to draw foreign tourists,” said La Quoc Khanh, deputy director of the city’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Department.

The call echoes requests made by international travel agencies that want a common visa policy to make it easier for tourists to travel across Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, he added.

Last year, the four countries lured 14.8 million international tourist arrivals. Thailand alone enticed more than 20 million visitors, the Saigon Times reported.

But Vietnam has been hit by a slide in tourism this year. Foreign tourists visiting the country in the first four months totalled 2.4 million, a three per cent decline, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

China had the most visitors to Vietnam during the period, ahead of South Korea, Japan, the United States and Malaysia.

The government is also being urged to consider a visa-free policy with individual countries in the region, to attract more tourists.

Tourism authorities from Ho Chi Minh City will go to Thailand this month to discuss the one-visa issue, the newspaper reported.

Thailand has an arrangement with Cambodia on sharing visas for foreign tourists. Laos plans a similar one-visa policy with neighbouring countries.