US diplomat sparks flap over Swiss ski 'chaos'
US Ambassador to Switzerland Suzi LeVine is being accused of violating diplomatic etiquette by posting critical comments about Swiss ski resorts on her Facebook page.
“I’m trying to understand the chaos in the lift lines at Swiss ski resorts,” LeVine wrote after spending New Year’s Day at the Adelboden ski resort in the Bernese Oberland.
She said she and her family enjoyed a great day at the resort “but I was so puzzled by the scrum heading to the lift (and the inefficiency in terms of how many people were on each lift)”.
LeVine, a former Microsoft employee and Democratic party fund raiser who took up her duties as ambassador in June last year, then sought feedback with questions about whether there was an optimal way to navigate the lift line and “are there specific Swiss resorts doing it best?”
The Blick newspaper said such comments amounted to snubbing Switzerland.
“Ambassadors tell their governments about their host country — in secret dispatches,” the German-language tabloid said.
But they rarely snub the country in public, it said.
The newspaper said LeVine, 42, made matters worse by trying to “round up criticism” about Switzerland by asking readers to share their lift line experiences, good, bad or indifferent, although she did not restrict the issue to Swiss resorts.
Blick said the ambassador’s remarks were an attack on Switzerland’s winter tourism.
The newspaper sought a response from Switzerland Tourism director Jürg Schmid.
“I talked to the ambassador and advised her to wait until the end of the season before drawing a final conclusion about the organization of Swiss ski resorts,” Schmid is quoted as saying.
He also added that the Swiss ski resorts were “not elitist”, unlike those in the US.
LeVine, contacted by Blick, said she did not know whether the ski lift criticism was appropriate for a US ambassador.
But she told the newspaper that social media was a suitable place for serious social dialogue.
She said from her experience Switzerland is “very well organized” but she wanted to know why ski lifts are organized differently in Switzerland than in America.
“I have received some excellent advice.”
Levine is guest speaker at an upcoming luncheon of the American International Club of Geneva on January 15th at the Hôtel Intercontinental.
Here's a YouTube video she issued after being named as ambassador to Switzerland: