Posted by: wildsidezambia | December 7, 2010

Peter Jones: living and loving Livingstone

Instrumental in bringing back the Zambezi International Regatta to Livingstone exactly one hundred years after the original Professional Sculling Championships in 1910, Peter Jones is one of the main role players in the tourism industry in Livingstone.

Peter Jones, 100% committed to promoting tourism to Livingstone

Zambian born, Peter grew up in the Copper Belt and – after ten years in the British Army, came to Livingstone to work on a Clint Eastwood film set in 1989. He saw the enormous potential Livingstone had and set up two rafting companies in Zimbabwe and one in Zambia before finding a perfect setting on the Zambezi River, where he developed an old farm house into the current magnificent River Club.

Peter’s particular interest is in Livingstone’s rich history and he has contributed towards renovating the Golf Club, which dates back to 1908, as well as the Boat Club built in 1910 and the Capitol Theatre (1931) and to a lesser extent St Andrew’s Church (1910).

He also tells of how Zambia became home to a large group of Jewish settlers fleeing persecution in their native Lithuania in the late eighteen hundreds. They arrived via Cape Town on wagons and were welcomed in to the country where they prospered and contributed to the blend of cultures in the then Northern Rhodesia. One of the settlers, Harry Susman, went on to establish Woolworths in South Africa. The first synagogue in the country was built in Livingstone.

“Zambia has never known any wars or hostilities”, says Peter. “Which is why Zambians have always been a welcoming and peace loving people.” Zambians are an integral part of developing and running tourism projects in Livingstone. “Twelve years ago 90% of hotels were owned by foreigners”, says Peter. “Today 60% is owned by Zambians”.

Peter strongly advocates an improvement to the town’s infrastructure by local and national government. “We need to make Livingstone more attractive to local Zambians, in particular from Lusaka, mining companies and from the neighbouring countries such as Angola.

“Livingstone is a typical multi-day destination. There is so much to do you can never fit it into a two or even three day stay”, he says. Peter wants to see a decrease in the cost or scrapping the visa charges altogether for visiting tourists from overseas. “Charging someone a visa is the most unfriendly way of welcoming a guest to the country”.

And plans for the next regatta? “We are looking at holding the next international regatta in about two years time”, says Peter. “Teams from the US, Australia and New Zealand have already expressed interest, and the Oxford, Cambridge and South African University rowing teams love coming here each time.”


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