Ireland's domestic tourism sector set to return in June and July
"A strong domestic tourism summer season" is believed to be on the cards.
Tourism Minister Catherine Martin has said the Government will develop a plan in two weeks' time that could see the Irish tourism sector reopen in June and July.
She told RTÉ's News at One: "From my engagement with the sectors, speculation is unhelpful. They want clear and consistent communication.
"What we will be doing is sitting down in two weeks' time and we'll be looking at the phased reopening of non-essential retail, hairdressers, museums, galleries, libraries.
"At the end of the month, and this is crucial for the [tourism] sector, we will be also developing a plan for what June and July would look like.
"I'm cautiously optimistic for tourism and hospitality in the summer months. We'll be looking at issues of reopening hotels and B&Bs."
While Martin said that any reopening will depend on the number of vaccines being rolled out and daily cases, as well as the risk of any Covid-19 variants, she cited the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals and ICUs falling below 200 and 50 respectively as reasons to be cautiously optimistic.
She also said that, along with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, she will be meeting with representatives from the tourism and hospitality sectors in May.
Martin said: "We purposely arranged that meeting. It was due to be in June. We brought it forward so that we can have that engagement with them before we get to those crucial months of June and July."
Asked if people in the tourism industry in Ireland can forget about overseas visitors for this summer, she replied: "I think we'll be looking at realistically for the summer, a strong domestic summer season."
However, she highlighted the EU's plans to roll out a digital green certificate to allow safe freedom of movement between EU countries by the summer, which she said Ireland is engaging in.
Earlier in the week, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that from the end of May, the Government will look at the possibility of allowing hotels, guest houses, and B&Bs to reopen in June.