View Mobile Site

Visitors center snags tourists displaced by fire

Text Size: Small Large Medium
Visitors center snags  tourists displaced by fire

Joanne Bjorkquist was the first of the Happy Trail tour group to get off the bus from Minnesota for Monday’s stay in Manteca.

VINCE REMBULAT/The Bulletin/


POSTED September 11, 2013 12:56 a.m.

Joanne Bjorkquist was the first off the bus carrying passengers from the Happy Trail Tours.

Directly behind her was hubby, Les. The couple from northern Minnesota was among the 56 aboard the motor coach that pulled into Manteca’s Holiday Inn Express early Monday evening.

“We had never heard of Manteca before today,” she said.

Anything along the Central Valley wasn’t even on this 21-day bus tour that set out of the small Midwest town of Forbes last Wednesday.

The Bjorkquists and others had been looking forward to visiting Yosemite National Park upon leaving Death Valley. But the devastating Rim Fire altered those plans. They were also limited by the 11 hours their bus driver could be on the road on  any given day.

Making matters worse was the broken air conditioner on the bus.

“It was cool in the morning but then it really warmed up (later in the day),” said Joanne Bjorkquist, who was accustomed to the Minnesota summer temperatures in the 90s.

The Happy Trail Tours had contacted Monica Mendoza, executive director of sales for the Holiday Inn Express, about accommodating the group as wheels were put in motion for a backup plan.

“That’s when Monica called us for help,” said Suzanne Clemens, who handles marketing and member services for the Manteca Visitors Bureau.

As part of the newly expanded service with the Yosemite Visitors Center, folks of the Manteca Visitors Bureau went to work in putting together a Plan B for the Minnesota vacationers.

“We suggested Tahoe for the day,” said Clemens, who had to make 18 calls to the area before setting up an itinerary consisting of a personal tour guide at the Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe.

She added, “It may not be Yosemite but we at least were able to give them that alpine experience.”

The central location of Manteca then became part of the tour. For starters, the Holiday Inn Express, according to Mendoza, was able to set aside 28 rooms that day based on double occupancy.

The nearby restaurants, retailers and even the Manteca Bowl & Family Fun Center were within walking distance for the visitors from Minnesota staying at the hotel.

In addition, this unexpected stop helped generate money for the City of Manteca’s general fund just based on the 10-percent bedroom tax, Clemens said.

This was the first time that she and CVB board of director Donna Shannon used their resources to formulate a Plan B for vacationers.

From here, the Bjorkquists, who also received a gift basket, compliments of the Manteca Visitors Bureau, were looking forward to visiting the next few days in San Francisco, Napa Valley and parts of Oregon and Washington.

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...