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Swiss Tourism Rushes to Fix Reputation After Oprah Recalls Local Racism

Aug 09, 2013 7:37 am

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This is a tourism board’s nightmare and one that could have a significant impact on a country’s short-term branding. Swiss Tourism made the right move by apologizing publicly on social media.

— Samantha Shankman

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Talk show host Oprah Winfrey says she encountered racism while shopping in Switzerland — and the national tourism office agrees.

The media mogul, who is one of the world’s richest women, told the U.S. program “Entertainment Tonight” that a shop assistant in Zurich refused to show her a handbag because it was “too expensive” for her.

Forbes magazine estimates that Winfrey earned $77 million in the year ending in June.

A spokeswoman for the Swiss tourism office, Daniela Baer, told The Associated Press on Friday “we are very sorry for what happened to her.”

The tourism office also posted an apology on Twitter, saying “this person acted terribly wrong.”

Winfrey was in town to attend last month’s wedding of longtime pal Tina Turner, who lives in Switzerland.

Copyright (2013) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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