Abstract: This paper argues that in the current neo-liberal era, the discourse of tourism as an “industry” has overshadowed other conceptualisations of the tourism phenomenon. An argument is developed that this discourse serves the needs and agendas of leaders in the tourism business sector. However, the author desires to revive an earlier understanding of tourism that predates the neoliberal era. Tourism is in fact a powerful social force that can achieve many important ends when its capacities are unfettered from the market fundamentalism of neoliberalism and instead are harnessed to meet human development imperatives and the wider public good. Examining the human rights aspects of tourism, investigating phenomena such as “social tourism”, exploring a few “non-western” perspectives of tourism and outlining some of the tantalising promise that tourism holds, this paper attempts to revive and reinforce a wider vision of tourism's role in societies and the global community. It is argued that it is critical for tourism academics, planners and leaders to support such a vision if tourism is to avoid facing increasing opposition and criticism in a likely future of insecurity and scarcity.