A broad agreement exists among academics, professionals and politicians that tourism is an effective instrument for social and economic development. However, there is no specific theoretical or practical framework of tourism for development to be found. Even the key questions have remained unformulated: (i) what does the concept of development entail? (ii) which are tourism’s contributions to such development?, and (iii) what types of tourism policy and governance are congruent with the intended tourism for development? This article preliminarily analyzes and answers these key questions. It first summarizes the development paradigms held in the last decades (modernization, neo-liberalism, dependency and sustainability) and goes on to consider the new proposals emanating from the New Institutional Economics and the Theory of Social Capital. In this context, the key elements of a “tourism for development policy and governance” are examined. Finally, the results of a 2011 enquiry, involving some 60 experts from 15 countries, on development vis-à-vis tourism are presented.