South Africa remains a developing country which is known to have one of the most unequal distributions of income in the world, as well as continued cultural, political and economic restraints. As a result of these constraints, community residents do not derive a significant number of tangible social impacts (such as job creation or higher income) from the tourism industry. However, local residents of these communities continue to support this vital industry, indicating that intangible social impacts influence their perceptions. The tangible and intangible social impacts of three South African communities with established tourism economies were measured. The results revealed that in some instances, intangible social impacts are perceived as even more important than tangible. It was also found that communities are not homogeneous, implying that one cannot assume a “one-size-fits-all” approach will work when it comes to managing these communities during tourism development.