The loss of the Rose of Tralee for the second year running is set to cost Tralee's economy up to €15 million in lost revenue this summer.
Last year the world famous festival was called off for the first time in its 61 year history and on Monday organisers announced that due to the ongoing pandemic crisis they had no option but to cancel this year's event as well.
Kerry hoteliers say that the cancellation represents an economic disaster for the county with the festival estimated to be worth more than €20 million a year in spending, overseas publicity and follow-on tourism in the county.
The festival pumps between €10 million and €15 million a year directly into Tralee and even with ongoing international travel restrictions and limits on the Irish hospitality sector the festival would still have provided an enormous post lock-down cash boost to embattled businesses in the county capital.
While it had been hoped that the Rose of Tralee could be postponed and stage in a drastically reduced format - perhaps involving only Irish contestants or with overseas competitors taking part via Zoom or Skype - this has not proven a viable option.
Though most businesses in the town will have expected that the festival would be cancelled or significantly postponed but, even so, the confirmation of their worst fears will come as a huge disappointment.
Mayor of Tralee, Cllr Terry O'Brien was among those to express sadness that the Rose of Tralee International Festival will not be taking place this year.
"It is clear that every effort had been made by the hard-working committee behind the festival to do everything possible to host the event in 2021 but for very understandable reasons, this is not possible," he said.
"I know that those involved will redouble their efforts to stage the Rose of Tralee International Festival in 2022 and everyone in Tralee will be supporting them in that effort.
Mayor O'Brien said that Kerry County Council and the Tralee Municipal District will do all in its power to ensure the impact of the festival's cancellation is mitigated as much as possible.
"At Municipal District level, we will be doing all we can to hold smaller events over the summer period in compliance with the public health guidelines. While these will not be a substitute for the Rose of Tralee, we hope we can make the most of the summer ahead to enjoy smaller family-type events as the pandemic situation improves," he said.
His sentiments were echoed by Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council, Cllr Patrick Connor Scarteen who also expressed disappointment at the announcement on Monday.
"Kerry County Council and the Tralee Municipal District has been a proud supporter of the Rose of Tralee International Festival for many years. Sadly, again this year, because of the need to protect everyone from the coronavirus large public events like this simply aren't possible, particularly those which involve international travel," said Cllr Connor Scarteen.
"I know that all the people of Kerry will look forward, as I do, to the 2022 festival," he said.
Rose of Tralee Chief Executive Anthony O'Gara described the decision to cancel the event as an "immense disappointment" and said that the focus will now switch to preparations for next year's festival.
"We will each have a role to play in restoring our community and local economy following this pandemic, and we look forward to coming together in celebration in August 2022," he said.
Long-time presenter Dáithí Ó Sé said he was "gutted", particularly for the town of Tralee.
"I am really gutted for the town of Tralee and the people of Tralee and the businesses of Tralee. It's heartbreaking for them".
"As they say at home 'tis a pure balls. That's what it is," Mr Ó Sé told Radio Kerry.
When it was cancelled last year the festival was originally postponed to August 2021 and applications had opened to take part in this year's event. In 2019, Dr Sinead Flanagan, a junior doctor from Limerick, became the Rose of Tralee at age 27.