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RACISM

Anti-German rant ‘worse than euro crisis’

The Swiss tourist trade is continuing to suffer the ill effects of a far-right politician's claim there are too many Germans in Switzerland.

Anti-German rant 'worse than euro crisis'
Swiss parliament, Marcin Wichary

Cancellations have poured in ever since Natalie Rickli of the Swiss People’s Party made her comment last month on live television, as more and more Germans decide against Switzerland as a holiday destination, online news site 20 Minuten reported.

“The whole thing is far worse than the euro crisis. Many guests from Germany have taken these criticisms personally,” Philipp Frutiger, head of the Giardino Hotel Group, told the website.

Frutiger said he had had to reassure many guests personally.

On Tuesday morning, tourist industry leaders are meeting in Luzern for a crisis meeting to discuss how to minimize the damage.

One organization, the Swiss Hotel Association (Hotelleriesuisse), has already written to Rickli warning her of the kind of damage such comments make and pointing out that much of the industry depends on foreign workers to run successfully.

But it appears that the damage has already been done.

“Long-term regular customers have told me that they no longer want to take their holidays with us,” Urs Zenhäusern, director of tourism in the Valais, told the website.

The comments, said Zenhäusern, were “downright xenophobic”.

“It can’t go on like this.”

See also:

‘Germans are stealing our jobs’: Swiss MP

Germans cancel Swiss trips after MP’s outburst

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RACISM

Switzerland sticks with mountain name despite ‘racist’ ties

A Swiss town on Wednesday refused to rename the Agassizhorn mountain despite its namesake's espousal of racist views.

Switzerland sticks with mountain name despite 'racist' ties
Switzerland's Agassizhorn. Image: Creative Commons

The 19th century Swiss geologist Louis Agassiz was known for research into fish, fossils and glaciers, but he has also been criticised in recent years for defending racist ideas.

After emigrating to the United States in 1846, Agassiz argued for racial segregation and hierarchies, and fiercely attacked Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

IN PICTURES: Powerful images from anti-racism protests across Switzerland 

But mayor of the town of Grindelwald, Beat Bucher, disagreed with those who wanted to change the peak's name, saying: “We cannot erase the stains of history.”

In a reference to the central Swiss summit, Bucher added: “It is better to accept it with its positive and negative aspects.”

The mountain peak, at just under 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) is shared by two other municipalities, Guttannen and Fieschertal, which had already rejected a bid to rename it.

A fresh effort was made after the killing in late May of George Floyd, an African American asphyxiated by a white police officer, generated a global wave of revulsion against racist symbols.

A similar push to rename the mountain was rejected in 2007. 

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