The widespread perception of tourism as a development tool in the developing world has propagated, with many seeing tourism as a means of contributing to the UN Millennium Development Goals (UN-MDGs). While this remains a credible assumption, current literature offers a rather limited set of empirical studies to support it. This paper contributes to this body of knowledge by focusing on an assessment of tour operators' awareness, which is an important actor in the implementation of policies and potential contribution to the achievement of the UN-MDGs. By using key literature on tourism and development and Namibia as a representative context, the research identified that while a number of tour operators were oblivious to the existence of the UN-MDGs, there was a general consensus on their individual role and impact in contributing especially towards the UN-MDG I - extreme poverty and hunger eradication. While in theory, all the tour operators surveyed appeared to make specific contributions towards many of the UN-MDGs, with the exception of goals IV and V; in practice, the need for clarifying their role as facilitators of development, possibly through the identification of focused initiatives and guidelines at a microlevel, became evident.
- UN Millennium Development Goals
- poverty eradication
- tour operators
- local development