Must we ALL Westernize?

I’m currently in Cancun, Mexico visiting my father and family. He has been living here for quite some time and I have always loved visiting him. On this trip, we’ve done a lot of local attractions and tried to stray away from the tourist scene. Even visiting downtown cancun (not the hotel zone), I am being swarmed with Starbucks, Cost Co, Carls Jr, and Sams Club. It’s interesting to me because most people often have a certain stereotype of Americans and how dependent we are on materialism, but what happens when other countries start forming into this sort of mentality? I can confidently say that most local Cancunenses don’t appreciate these new corporations entering their city only for the convenience factor. 

I’m wondering if this is the direction that most favored tourist destinations will face? I wrote about a topic similar to this in a previous post, but I often wonder when do you draw the line between financial success and moral success? I know people love coming to parts of the Yucatan Peninsula to escape the every day life of corporations and chain stores, but what happens when its appearing everywhere? Do we credit to these corporations for following where the money is and conveniencing us even more or do we shake a finger at them for taking away from the local, non-westernized appeal?

Will it become that every place we end up travel with just appear similar to the last place we visited? Will cathedrals and castles be replaced with Starbucks and Wal-marts? If so, how and should we react? If we were in the position as the president of these corporations, would we ever think about not continue to grow in order to appeal to a certain audience, yet abandon another?

This question takes me to the recent announcement made by Starbucks to close more than 500 stores throughout the world. The NY Times article mentions Starbucks decision to shut down the stores in an attempt to handle the current economic crisis. As much as I know these details to be true, I have to wonder if Starbucks has lost its appeal to being a local, comfortable and inviting coffee shop? I’m interested to see how the cut-down in stores will attract their customers. Will more americans visit Starbucks in the United States if they’ve been traveling and have had no interaction with the store? By placing so many coffee shops in every available corner, are we just encouraging Americans to stay true to their familiarities and conveniences and not adjust to the wonderful features that the world has to offer? I understand we all have our favorite Starbucks drink, but why can’t we leave our favorite order behind and try a latte from a nona e nono shop in Italia?

I’m interested to see how everything turns out with corporations and their existence in the global landscape. As long as corporations are participating in CSR (corporate social responsibility) can we really discredit them? As we become more progressive and advanced, can we cherish and maintain our local shops without seeing total competition against corporations?

(to avoid any potential mishaps or criticisms, I’d like to acknowledge that I have no specific feelings for or against any of the mentioned corporations. All mentioned have contributed through socially responsible ways. This blog post is to further investigate a topic.)

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