Based on three case studies of rural tourism practices in suburban Beijing, China, this paper proposes a community-driven development (CDD) model in rural tourism. The paper illustrated three principles of the CDD model: localization of supply chain, community-external investor symbiosis, and democratization of decision making. The three principles as a whole serve as key to understanding and successfully implementing the CDD in China. Although the three principles come from the practice of rural tourism development in China, it is hoped that theoretical implications could be derived from this paper to direct tourism planning exercises in other countries, especially those developing countries with similar economic development backgrounds to China. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.