In the 21st century, Pacific island countries (PICs) continue to leverage for tourism the attributes that have imbued them, including appeals to their cultural, geographical, and climatic allure. However, the question raised more frequently by many is why despite the many decades of tourism across the region, development impacts from the sector remain largely muted. The key remit of this paper is to offer a status quo round‐up of tourism in PICs and to draw on key emergent themes that underlay the present context. There is little doubt that for policymakers and their international development partners, whether tourism has or can lead to enduring development outcomes remains clouded in questions over whether there is ample evidence available to support such assertions. However, this has failed to dampen the enthusiasm of multilateral agencies that promote the notion that tourism’s potential remains largely underdeveloped. With largely narrow economic bases, PICs have little choice but to seek further development of tourism despite the many fundamental constraints that make them less competitive than Southeast Asian destinations.