This paper provides an overview of some of the discourses to be found in the literature on tourism, politics and post-colonialism. It starts by setting a brief definitional context for development, then tourism, which is followed by visiting the vexed question of whether tourism is inevitably a cultural pollutant as well as a potential engine of growth. The substantive section, “Tourism in a post-colonial world” sets out a range of arguments that will be familiar to development academics but that might prove particularly interesting to those visiting this discourse for the first time. The general theme of this section is the political nature of tourism as expressed through the involvement of multinational corporations. The paper concludes by acknowledging tourism's economic power but questions its structural capacity to add value to any national search for economic independence.