© 2016 Institute of Australian Geographers. This paper reviews a tourist planning experience developed for the Couto Mixto in 2007-2008. The Couto Mixto is a small territory of three hamlets situated in Galicia (Spain) and bordering Portugal that, until the end of the 19th century, used to be a virtually independent state of 25km2. This tourism planning process is compared and contrasted with the well-described Action Research (AR) approach. The paper begins by providing the conceptual foundations of tourism planning which were used as a framework for the research. Then, the tourism planning experience is introduced in detail, focussing on the results of the interviews conducted to identify the tourism resources of the area. Therefore, 23 resources were inventoried and further audited to determine their various degrees of potential for the purposes of tourism planning. Previous AR experiences and the tourism planning initiative developed for the Couto Mixto share a common objective to facilitate change in communities in trouble. However, the case-study tourism planning experience was not fully compliant with genuine AR in several respects. We conclude by recommending AR as a worthy approach for tourism planning as a way to effectively put the local community in focus.