Thousands of residents in the Republic - who had never been north of the border as tourists - flocked to Northern Ireland when lockdown was lifted last year, a leading hotel chief has said.
Howard Hastings, managing director of Hastings Hotels, said this has prompted tourism representatives and other stakeholders to "heavily market" NI in the Republic as soon as restrictions are once again lifted.
One hurdle for this strategy, however, could be the differing vaccination speeds in Northern Ireland compared to the Republic.
Mr Hastings was speaking during a presentation by Visit Belfast to Belfast City Council's City Growth and Regeneration Committee on Wednesday night.
Visit Belfast is a public/private partnership with a board made up of members from the private, public and community sectors, aimed at promoting Belfast as a tourist and business destination.
"What we are looking at in the year that's in it, is that both Tourism Northern Ireland together with trade bodies, really plugged Belfast and Northern Ireland in the Republic of Ireland last year," he said.
"Before Covid struck there were 2.5m people in the Republic of Ireland who had never been to Northern Ireland, that had never visited Northern Ireland [as tourists]. And, when lockdown ended last year, because of their inability to travel elsewhere, very many of them took the opportunity to do so for the first time.
"They were very pleasantly surprised at what they saw and obviously have formed the opinion that they are going to do so again this year, and they've told their friends.
"With that in mind, we're gearing up to market ourselves heavily to the Republic of Ireland as soon as their restrictions ease."
The vaccination lag in the Republic compared to NI, however, could impact plans for cross-border travel this summer.
According to the latest figures, some 568,011 people in Northern Ireland have received their first dose of a Covid vaccine, while 41,787 have received their second. This means around 27% of the overall population here have received their first jab.
In the Republic, these figures are 303,550 for a first dose and 142,924 for a second dose. Around 6% of RoI's overall population have received their first jab.
Alliance councillor Eric Hanvey, a member of BCC's City Growth and Regeneration Committee, said there are several factors that will be at play regarding the possibility of cross-border travel this summer. "The issue really is the common travel area is there, so unless something is done in relation to that, things will stay as they are. It also depends on the government in the south, what they do in terms of Covid regulations and how they might relax them," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
Speaking this week, First Minister Arlene Foster voiced concern over the differing speeds at which the vaccination programmes are progressing.
"It's very clear that we are going to be finished our vaccination programme and the Republic of Ireland will still be in the midst of theirs. That does bring headaches," she said.
On Wednesday night, Visit Belfast presented its three-year Covid recovery strategy, 'Rebuilding City Tourism', aimed at driving more visitors to Belfast following the economic hit caused by the pandemic.
Visit Belfast laid out a number of targets for the 2021/22 financial year, including reaching 90,000 bed nights for leisure tourism and 60,000 bed nights for business tourism, with the projected economic impact Visit Belfast's plan to be in the region of £74m.