A leading public health specialist in Northern Ireland has urged people here to "take a holiday from having a foreign holiday" and forget about travelling abroad this year.
Dr Gabriel Scally, a former NHS doctor and professor of Public Health at the University of Bristol, made the plea after the Republic's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, warned holidaymakers not to venture overseas for a summer break.
Dr Holohan made the comment in response to concerns there may be a resurgence in Covid cases - some linked to foreign travel - in the Republic.
"I know people have made bookings. It would make much more sense not to go ahead," said Dr Holohan.
The development comes as the Government prepares to unveil its first stage of 'air bridges' - a number of short-haul European destinations which will not require UK holidaymakers to quarantine.
The move has been hailed as giving the travel industry - which has suffered greatly due to the pandemic - a vital boost.
However, Dr Scally told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday the public should give foreign travel a miss this year - a plea which has been described by travel operators here as "soul-destroying" as demand in holiday bookings returns.
"My personal view is that we should take a holiday from having foreign holidays," he said.
"There shouldn't be any holiday trips outside the island of Ireland this year.
"The basic principle is that we shouldn't be flying off to the sun for a couple of reasons.
"I don't think it is safe to go holiday tourist hotspots because if there are going to be flare-ups of the virus abroad, the likelihood is that those holiday hotspots will be prime candidates and people may get the virus and bring it back with them."
Dr Scally continued: "The risks coming back are importing cases into Ireland where - north and south - the number of cases are extremely small.
"And the best way of keeping them extremely low - in fact getting rid of them entirely, I believe - is that there should be a zero-Covid island.
"The risk of people importing new cases is that they can spread quite rapidly; through the community and travelling through airports and public transport."
Dr Scally said that the Executive should follow the footsteps of the Republic and issue the same no foreign holiday plea.
"I think the Executive should consider the matter and come out with a very clear statement and work very closely with the new government in the Republic, and take an agreed position on the matter," he said.
"It should be something we have in common, that just for this year, it's a stay at home year, and enjoy your own country."
In response, Health Minister Robin Swann has urged the public to take precautions if they do make the decision to go on a foreign holiday.
"Clearly there is a risk in travelling to countries where the virus is still very much circulating," he said.
"I would urge the public to take all necessary precautions to reduce their chance of becoming infected, including following governmental advice for travellers as well as adhering to good hand and respiratory hygiene, keep to the social distance guidelines and follow the guidance in relation to the use of face coverings."
Dr Scally also said that people staying at home would give the economy a boost on both sides of the border.
"It would be better if the pounds and the euros on the island of Ireland were spent on tourism in the island of Ireland," he said.
"And that would help local businesses to recover and keep people employed and restore the economy."
Heather Fielding, managing director of Gallagher Travel, said customers' 'wanderlust' is now returning.
"The demand for travel is here, even though restrictions may be in place," she said.
"We've noticed a real increase in demand for the remainder of this summer, and we've had key workers working non-stop and they're ready for a holiday away.
"People now want to getaway.
"Some people are postponing trips, but we're definitely seeing that demand coming back."
Ms Fielding said that a message urging people not to go abroad now would be coming at the wrong time for the industry, although she stressed public health remains the priority.
"It's soul destroying. We're in a kind of no man's land and we're taking a day at the time as an industry," she added.
The managing director also stressed there are "definitely deals to be had for customers".
Meanwhile, Naomi Waite, director of marketing at Tourism NI said there is plenty of choice for those who are opting to have a staycation at home.
"Whether it's revisiting childhood holiday destinations with your own family or awakening your sense of adventure, there will be a giant welcome for visitors this summer," she said.