This paper focuses on local knowledge and perceptions about heritage and tourism in Inanda, north of Durban, in view of the eThekwini municipality’s recent investment in the upgrading of the Inanda Heritage Route. The research is based on in-depth interviews with a cross-section of Inanda residents and tourist guides, as well as a small survey and the experiences of a community outreach project based at two high schools in Inanda. It is evident that many residents of Inanda have never visited the route attractions, show little interest in heritage conservation, and appear to have no genuine sense of ownership of the heritage sites. While being positive about attracting tourists to Inanda, the paper finds that the community knows little about tourism and the needs and motivations of tourists. It is argued that this lack of knowledge and interest impedes local people’s ability to connect with the tourism phenomenon and take advantage of the opportunities it creates. This study highlights especially the role of young people as brokers of new value systems and the importance of instilling a passion for heritage and a locally contextualised understanding of tourism in the transformation of the tourism industry and heritage sector.