Face Off: should fast food restaurants be allowed to open next to historical monuments?

Face Off: should fast food restaurants be allowed to open next to historical monuments?

Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week’s topic is ...

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Does fast food have no place near historical monuments?
Photo: Nora Tam/SCMP

Joshua Lee, 18, Cardiff University, Britain

Historical sites are of great importance to many people, and the sites themselves and their surroundings can be sensitive to changes to neighbouring buildings and the architecture around them. However, the opening of fast food restaurants next to such sites may only have a minor impact on the surrounding environment, and the overall area may actually benefit from allowing fast food businesses to set up in areas near these landmarks.

Many historical sites are major tourist attractions, so they should offer good facilities and services to visitors. If fast food restaurants were banned in the vicinity of historical sites and tourist attractions, the area would be unable to support a high number of visitors. This would make these historical sites less valuable, and deter tourists from visiting such attractions.

Although there are concerns that the massive multinational logos of many fast food chains could damage the visual beauty of a historical site, this is a minor issue that can be solved by designers and architects. They can modify the external appearance of fast food restaurants so that they blend into the surrounding environment and don’t take anything away from the historical site.

Overall, allowing fast food restaurants will bring significant benefits to visitors and the tourism industry, while there is little risk of the surrounding environment being harmed.


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Charlotte Fong, 14, International Christian School

Fast food restaurants can be found almost everywhere – and that includes near historical monuments. However, we should keep our love of burgers and fries away from these cultural spots.

Historical monuments play an important role in society as they reflect the past and tell a country’s story. Measures have already been taken to preserve these monuments. So when something new and foreign opens nearby, it immediately takes away from the site’s historical value.

Many tourists visit a monument because of its cultural and artistic significance. These travellers want to see the structure in its original state so that they can get a better understanding of the country they’re visiting. Having a fast food restaurant nearby completely changes that impression. Instead of being a unique cultural location, the site simply becomes another generic spot in a city or country.

Moreover, large companies threaten local restaurants. Compared to fast food chains, which offer the same menu worldwide, local restaurants provide a wide range of traditional cuisine. With millions of dollars and advertising experts behind them, fast food restaurants have no problem attracting customers. Small neighbourhood restaurants can’t compete with them. Along with the monuments, local food is an essential part of a country’s heritage. Once these restaurants start disappearing, culture starts to disappear, too.

Most locals are against fast food restaurants opening near monuments because they spoil the image of the neighbourhood. The changes could affect people’s livelihoods so their opinions should be taken seriously.

No matter how much convenience fast food restaurants offer, the historical and cultural elements they destroy cannot be replaced. Therefore, fast food restaurants must not be allowed to open next to historical monuments.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Should fast food restaurants be allowed to open next to historical monuments?

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