Tourism in South Africa has emerged as a popular poverty reduction strategy. Nevertheless, benefit of the sector to previously disadvantaged communities remains highly contested. In efforts to increase equitable economic impacts of tourism, the Eastern Cape local government introduced a Local Economic Development (LED) women township tourism home-stay pilot project under the aegis of the national Black Economic Empowerment legislation. The thesis identifies factors defined by the institutional frameworks and analyses how they are hindering the realization of women-led entrepreneurial economic empowerment through township tourism home-stays. A critical pedagogic approach is juxtaposed with the concept of conscientisation to provide insights on how historical experiences and events of South Africa continue to impact the development consciousness of previously disadvantaged communities. The thesis discusses the classic structure of government-led conceptual frameworks which fund top-down projects and reveals an oversight: how formal and informal institutional arrangements of LED impact the women assuming ownership of the project. This illuminates the role of culture as a natural resource in tourism and the consequences of cultural misconceptions for sustainable tourism development. The predominantly qualitative methodology challenges the reader to think beyond the traditional notion of tourism and stresses that everyday life cannot be separated either from tourism operators (hosts), tourists (guests) or from the researcher who acts as a culturally situated story-teller.