McDonaldization & Tourism

It takes a lot of effort to find a place that doesn’t have McDonalds, Burger King, Gucci, Top Shop, Starbucks… The list goes on and on. So you have to ask, with everything being so alike from place to place why bother travelling?

The reason for this is those things that cannot be so easily replicated. Each nation has its own points of difference, its geography, fauna and flora, and cultural heritage. However, in the push to attract big business to provide jobs nation after nation is at risk of losing the pieces of itself that are inimitable. Any business analyst worth having on the payroll will tell businesses everywhere that the most valuable resource they have, are those things which their competitors cannot easily replicate.

Tourism is a huge industry and growing. There are nations around the world with economies totally dependent upon attracting tourists. There are none that do not want to benefit from having a share of this pie. But, if you have nothing to offer that sets you apart from your competitors, your only option left is to compete on price. This strategy means that for your nation to derive any real benefits from tourism you have to rely on volume which can be social and environmentally destructive and low paid. 

This brings me to my point. Since Donald Trump was elected president those in the know have stated that the United States tourist numbers have markedly fallen. I have been asked a few times why I don’t want to go to the US, and this is my answer.

The US has systematically exported their culture around the globe. My TV screen is swamped with American cultural images, it even fills the six o’clock news casts. From the Trumpian White House’s latest antic’s through to the latest natural disaster, through to what the Khadashian’s had for lunch – its enough to make one want to scream STOP!!!! Enough already. When I go shopping my own town is full of American franchises these have dominated the malls. Finding something truly un-American s such a treat, that once found these become favorite haunts.

So the two points that would attract me to America, the culture and the environment – what about visiting to see these? Well I wouldn’t have though I needed to tell Americans this, I would have thought it was obvious. For all intents and purposes, the US is at war with itself. Look at the social media discourse, it is dominated by nasty rude comments. If you stumble across a reasoned comment, it is followed by a litany of insults, this is really unappealing behavior, I don’t need to put myself in the middle of this.

Guns – statistically I have a higher chance of dying from gun violence in the US than I do in a war zone. How sad is that? If I am going to put my life at un-necessary risk I would rather risk my life exploring the middle east, the cradle of modern civilization, the pyramids of Giza, the Valley of the Kings, Persepolis, and all those other ancient wonders of the world. Whether or not my image is your reality is irrelevant, perception is reality. As far as I am concerned, you guys have just become desensitized to the violence in which your lives play out.

Healthcare – Even with travel insurance I can’t help but be deeply suspicious if I would actually receive the medical care I needed if it were required. I have actually done quite a lot of research into America’s healthcare industry, and so I am well aware of how quickly the costs add up due to an overuse in testing and procedures which are carried out for the sole purpose of ensuring the doctor concerned is limiting their risk of a malpractice suit. That is a whole lot of motivation for my insurer to find a way to avoid paying, I have to little faith in medical insurers to risk falling ill in the US. I just don’t think for a minute that any other nation would put ability to pay above providing treatment.

The environment – The US is a large a varied nation with some places of spectacular beauty. But, it is also a nation whose environment is under assault. With fish washing up in their millions in Florida, mining concessions handed out allowing hundreds of hectares within national parks, the removal of the clean air, and clean water acts, this is not the act of a nation respecting its environment. As a tourist I can not support this, so I will not spend money to visit sites of environmental degradation when I can visit places where the environment is respected.

Now I am sure there are many Americans that will have lots of reasons why my opinion is flawed and wrong. I’m sure I do have many flawed impressions, but here’s what Americans really need to understand. These are my impressions of the US, so long as the messages I receive through the media reinforces this your individual experience is not going to budge my impressions far enough to convince me to spend my money visiting, when there are so many other places that I have a far more positive view of, and that is my prerogative. As the old adage goes “the customer is always right.”


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