One vibrant topic within the emerging scholarship around geographies of tourism development and planning concerns that of tourism and local economic development planning. Across many countries tourism is a core base for planning of place-based local economic development programmes. In post-apartheid South Africa the country’s leading cities have promoted tourism as part of economic development programming. This article examines planning for South Africa’s aerotropolis around the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Ekurhuleni, which is adjacent to Johannesburg. Under circumstances of economic distress and the need for new sources of local job creation Ekurhuleni is undertaking planning for tourism development through leveraging and alignment to aerotropolis planning. The nexus of aerotropolis and urban tourism planning is analysed. Arguably, the strengthening of tourism in Ekurhuleni offers the potential for contributing towards inclusive development goals.