A hospitality leader has said the question of tourism this summer "is more an issue of a green light than a green list".
anice Gault, head of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, said the current government advice, which is only to travel if it is essential, was causing confusion for those aiming to go abroad or plan a holiday.
She added that for local hotels "summer will be about the staycation, with a drive to secure domestic business and attract visitors from the south of Ireland".
Her comments came as the Republic published its so-called green list of 15 countries from which travellers will not have to quarantine. It does not include Great Britain or the US.
Most of the countries on the Ireland list are also on the list of places from where people heading to Northern Ireland do not have to quarantine.
There are, however, notable differences, including France and Spain, which are on our list but not on the Republic's.
Likewise, some appear on the Ireland list but not the UK one, such as Estonia and Slovakia.
Ms Gault said the primary concern was how people can get here in the first place, irrespective of quarantine issues.
She added that in 2019, the tourism spend was in the region of £1billion, with some 76% generated from domestic, Republic of Ireland and GB visitors. "The GB market remains our largest overseas market in terms of spend and numbers," she said.
There are, she added, three main questions to consider in terms of attracting visitors from abroad. "How can people get to Northern Ireland for a holiday?" Ms Gault asked.
"How happy are visitors to travel? And will the local communities be happy to welcome them?"
Ms Gault said that Northern Ireland's hoteliers were concentrating on island of Ireland visitors in the short-term, but they hope that, as the pandemic subsides, visitors from GB and further afield will return.
"Visitors on the island can travel easily by land and are content to do so," she said.
"Tourists have been widely welcomed by local communities as the R number remains well contained north and south of the border.
"Moving to those beyond the island of Ireland, perhaps the most pertinent point is that access by air and sea is limited.
"Research has shown that international visitors, even those from Great Britain, are reticent about travelling to Ireland and appear to be looking at holidaying in 2021."
Ms Gault said that Covid clusters "cause concern about people coming into communities".
She added that "the general consensus is that travel is starting to pick up on an all-Ireland basis and visitors from further afield are more likely to travel much later this year but may wait until 2021".
Ms Gault said that until leisure and business travel was given the green light, "it is difficult to see how we can restore significant levels of business".
"There is confusion about travelling, with essential travel abroad deemed as the only travel people should plan," she added.
"This in itself is leading to concern and having a negative effect on visitor sentiment.
"Recovery of the tourism industry will be slow.
"It is important Northern Ireland has access to markets which offer opportunity whilst maintaining control of the spread of Covid-19, and that we are open for business once the overseas visitor is happy to travel again."
Tourism expert Lyn Fawcett, whose family owned a string of venues on the north coast, said that if Northern Ireland was not open to GB visitors, it would have "a significant impact on our overall business". "About 25% of my business will be from GB and the rest is domestic," Mr Fawcett explained.
"At the moment I have people who have booked to come on holiday from England. If they're forced to go into quarantine, they will not come.
"The other dimension is that we already have bookings from people from GB and we need to be able to honour those."
Mr Fawcett, whose family owned Northern Counties, Fawcetts Royal and The Lismara Hotels in Portrush and The Strand Hotel in Portstewart, said "the industry has suffered a setback which will be almost impossible to get over".
"Losing 50% of the year's income for most businesses is a very big hole that has to be filled," he added.
"If we are closing the doors effectively to a number of countries, that will have a long-term impact. If we don't get the GB traffic, that will have a major damaging effect on the industry.
"I don't think that damage will be so great if it's from other countries."
The former Ulster University hospitality and tourism lecturer, who owns self-catering cottages on the Causeway Coast, said there were positives associated with so many people staycationing in Northern Ireland.
"There are very few places left in self-catering on the north Antrim coast," he said.
"People who've missed their holidays will probably do so in Northern Ireland and we will continue to be busy into September, October and November.
"It's not all doom and gloom. Business is picking up and I'm experiencing a higher level of demand for those three months than I've had in previous years - and it's entirely people from Northern Ireland."
Mr Fawcett also said making all US visitors quarantine for 14 days was "using a sledgehammer to crack a very small nut" because they could be tested for Covid at the airport upon arrival.
He added: "You can insist on them bringing negative Covid test results, you can test their temperature at the airport and you can give them a test at the airport and ask them to self-isolate for 24 hours until the test comes through."
Stormont health committee member Colin McGrath said the differing approved flight lists were confusing.
"The advice on international travel isn't clear from the Executive and across the island, so it's little wonder that people are confused," the SDLP MLA added.