Chairman of Fáilte Ireland is also taking two Irish breaks
The head of the country's tourism promotion board has travelled to Italy on holiday, the Irish Independent can reveal.
The Government is advising people not to travel abroad and to "holiday at home" as the Covid-19 pandemic plays havoc with the country's economy and health service.
Fáilte Ireland is carrying out a "major drive to encourage people to take domestic breaks" and the Government has introduced a tax rebate to encourage people to spend their holidays here.
However, Fáilte Ireland chairman Michael Cawley went to Italy on his holidays. The Mediterranean country is on the Green List of countries people can visit without having to quarantine on their return.
Mr Cawley last night confirmed he was in Italy but said he plans to take two holidays in Ireland in September and October.
"It [the holiday] was arranged by my family some months ago. I didn't want to disappoint them," he said.
Mr Cawley said he will be taking two holidays in Ireland in September and October.
"I understand what the Government is doing and I support it," he said.
"I am going to spend two holidays supporting the Irish tourism industry."
Mr Cawley said he has been working hard with Fáilte Ireland and has been on every single pandemic call. He said he has not seen his son in the US in six months and probably won't this year.
His daughter lives in Europe and he met her on this holiday. Mr Cawley said he knew other people had to cancel their pre-booked holidays abroad this summer and had lost money as a result.
"I sympathise with people and I support what the Government is doing absolutely. It is a family decision and a personal decision," he said.
The former Ryanair deputy CEO was appointed as chairman of the tourism body by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar when he was tourism minister in 2014.
He was reappointed last year by then minister Shane Ross.
Mr Cawley worked with Ryanair for 17 years and was the airline's deputy chief executive and chief operating officer until his retirement.
He had previously worked as the airline's chief financial officer and commercial director.
Prior to his time with Ryanair, he worked with the Gowan Group Limited, a distributor for Peugeot and Citroen cars in Ireland.
A spokesperson for Fáilte Ireland said the organisation would not be commenting.
Fáilte Ireland has been avidly promoting domestic tourism.
Its current heavyweight domestic marketing campaign is 'Ireland, Make a Break for it'.
In the past month, it launched a new-look website for domestic visitors, DiscoverIreland.ie, as well as a new domestic marketing campaign, 'Come here to me Dublin', which encourages those living in Dublin to visit the attractions in the city.
Additionally, Fáilte Ireland has recently collaborated with RTÉ on a four-part TV series No Place Like Home.
Fáilte Ireland has also drawn up a Covid Safety Charter for the tourism industry to instil public confidence in the safety of tourism businesses.
After publishing the Green List, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the advice was to "holiday at home".
"I am clear that the safest thing to do is not to travel. That is the clear message. We are saying to people to holiday at home this year.
"We have, in respect of those 15 countries, applied the normal precautions appellation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which basically means when they return home they will not have to restrict their movements," he said.
Fáilte Ireland says Covid-19 has been "catastrophic" for tourism in this country.
Speaking at the Dáil Covid-19 committee last month, Fáilte Ireland chief executive Paul Kelly said tourism was of "vital importance" to Ireland.
"Economically, tourism was hit first, hit hardest and will take the longest to recover," he said.
Much of travel in pre-Covid times was about far-flung destinations and savouring different cultures and cuisines. For two weeks every summer we soaked up the Provencal sunshine or swam in the warm waters of the Algarve. This year the pandemic has put paid to many of our travel plans and we're sticking closer to home.