Q&A with Victoria Clarke, CEO of Tourism Mississauga
How would you describe Mississauga’s culinary scene?
Mississauga is made up of seven villages and neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct personality and flavour. With more than half of our population having an ethnic background that is not of European ancestry, the city is simply a mosaic of cultures. Generations of newcomers have brought their traditions, customs and food, which have found reflection in the many different restaurants that are offering a wide range of cuisines. And this means customers can enjoy so many authentic food experiences in our hometown.
The city’s reputation as a foodie destination is also reflected in the recent Tourism Sentiment Index for Canada, which ranked Mississauga – the only Ontario city that made the list – second out of 50 Canadian cities. On a global scale, Mississauga ranked number 42. The analysis, which is based on millions of pieces of content posted publicly online, highlights how well-loved Mississauga’s dining and takeout options are based on quality, diversity, level of service, options and convenience.
How have restaurateurs fared during the pandemic, and how are they doing now?
The pandemic has brought tremendous hardship for many businesses, with the majority losing a significant percentage of their regular revenues. Just because restaurants have managed to stay open and restrictions have now been eased, this doesn’t mean they’re back to normal. We’ve seen local foodservice venues go to extraordinary lengths to support their communities, keep their staff employed and provide their customers with the best service, even when their business was turned upside down.
There are many inspiring stories from owners and operators who emptied their refrigerators, freezers and pantries to donate food to service organizations to ensure vulnerable people didn’t go hungry. Others switched to takeout and delivery to ensure people could get food without having to venture out. And they did all this with the same love and care they put into the meals they make every day.
What are some of the changes informing our “new normal”?
The pandemic has changed people’s habits – but it has also created a new appreciation for the businesses we may have taken for granted in the past.
We want to encourage people to return to some of the experiences they missed over the last two years, such as meeting friends for brunch or drinks, or getting together with business partners over a meal.
While we’ve gotten used to conducting business meetings virtually, sitting down together in a restaurant creates a very different ambience. We are hoping to welcome more business travellers in some of the spectacular hospitality and foodservice venues we have in Mississauga.
Can you please give an example of Tourism Mississauga lending support?
Through the pandemic, we partnered with the City of Mississauga Economic Development Office and the Mississauga Board of Trade to develop programs like #MississaugaMade and Shop Local Mississauga, where we are celebrating people, products and services and encouraging residents to discover and connect with great local businesses.
Now that restrictions are lifting, Tourism Mississauga is actively encouraging people to visit, for example, with a hotel incentive program called It Pays To Stay and a Local Gems Pass, which allows participants to explore famous landmarks as well as hidden gems and earn prizes along the way, not to mention the Ontario Staycation tax credit.
These are just a few of the many things we are doing to welcome visitors and business back to Mississauga.
What’s the message you would like to convey on National Takeout Day?
I would ask both residents and visitors to consider supporting their favourite eateries or trying something new, whether it’s dining in or ordering out. We need to remember how important these foodservice businesses are: they are a gateway to employment and essential elements in the value chain that supports other businesses providing products and services.
Enjoy the beautiful food and share the experience!
Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.