The South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, assisted by a group of international specialist consultants, conducted a comprehensive countrywide study to identify areas of high tourism development potential. Through an intricate process of selection, an area which they termed the Badplaas/Barberton/Malelane area was identified as one of four high potential development areas in South Africa and studies, with a view to developing further tourism plans were conducted. This process was instrumental to gaining momentum and support from the various government departments for the tourism and infrastructure development of the Barberton sub-region. In this study, the Mountainlands Nature Reserve was again identified as a catalyst for the development of Barberton and significant research from this project contributed to defining the developmental objectives of the Mountainlands Nature Reserve.
The implementation of this strategy by the national Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has recently been incorporated into the BATOBIC Programme which is driven under the auspices of the Barberton Chamber of Business.