Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General - Press Release VFM examination report on Gulliver: The Irish Tourism Information and Reservation System

Press Release issued on 26 July 1996

VFM examination report on Gulliver: The Irish Tourism Information and Reservation System

The Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr John Purcell, has carried out a value for money examination of the project to develop the Irish Tourism Information and Reservation System (widely referred to as 'Gulliver'). Since 1990, Bord Fáilte and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board have worked together to develop the computer-based system, which aims to provide tourist information and automated reservation capability.

Gulliver has been developed at a net cost of ?8.6m up to the end of 1995. The two tourist boards are currently pursuing the potential for private sector involvement in the Gulliver project.

This examination was concerned only with the role of Bord Fáilte in developing and managing Gulliver. It does not draw any conclusions about the involvement of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

Main Findings

The system was installed in tourist information centres in 1992/3. However, it was established in the first year of operation (1993) that the original concept and specification for the system-based on a large central computer - were not capable of delivering the planned functions at a sustainable cost.

Work on developing an alternative system - based on a network of personal computers (PCs) - concentrated on linking up overseas tour operators, rather than replacing the existing high cost system in tourist information offices in Ireland.

It is expected that a PC-based module for tourist information offices will not be introduced in Bord Fáilte's tourist information offices until after the 1996 tourist season.

More than half of the hotels and guesthouses registered by Bord Fáilte are members of Gulliver. Of these, less than one-third use the system actively to offer accommodation for sale. Bed and breakfast, town and country homes and farmhouse accommodation providers automatically become members of Gulliver when they register with Bord Fáilte. Again, less than one third of these actively use the system to offer accommodation for sale.

While accommodation bookings worth ?8m to the tourism industry in 1995 were handled using the Gulliver system, this accounts for less than 2 per cent of all accommodation bookings in that year.

The cost of developing and running the system, which delivers only part of the planned service, is greater than had been estimated.

The Gulliver system incurred a deficit of ?641,000 for Bord Fáilte in 1995, compared to a projected deficit of ?445,000 in the ‘worst case’ scenario.

The Board of Bord Fáilte had little involvement in decision making about the Gulliver project. Instead, high-level decisions were generally made by senior Bord Fáilte management.

Dublin Tourism has recently introduced a computerised self-service system which appears to duplicate certain aspects of the Gulliver system in the Dublin area. Bord Fáilte believes that the development of this and other self-service systems has no adverse implications for future planned expenditure on Gulliver.

Bord Fáilte and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board are continuing with the development of the Gulliver project. Bord Fáilte estimates that additional funding of at least ?2.3m will be required in the period 1996/97 to fund planned development and ongoing operational deficits. On the other hand, a near five-fold increase in revenues is projected in the period 1995-2000.

Experience to date plus the demanding tasks that remain to be carried out combine to cast some doubts as to whether the cost and output targets set for completion of the project can be met.

For further information about the report contents, please contact:

Seamus McCarthy

Tel: +353 1 679 3122

Fax: +353 1 679 3288


Publication Details

VFM Report No. 9: Gulliver: The Irish Tourism Information and Reservation System

ISBN 0-7076-2462-2

Price ?5

Government Publications Sales Office

Sun Alliance House

Molesworth Street

Dublin 2

Tel: +353 1 661 3111

Fax: +353 1 475 2760

The contents of this page were last updated on 26/09/03