209 Business Journal file photo
A wayfaring sign on westbound Lathrop Road
at Union Road points visitors to
some of Manteca’s shops.

BY DENNIS WYATT

If an out-of-town visitor trying to reach Bass Pro Shops exits Highway 99 and heads westbound on Lathrop Road by mistake, they now can find their destination without having to stop to ask for directions.

The first of 46 wayfaring signs have been placed at key locations throughout Manteca to provide directions to city attractions. The red white and blue signs made of 80 mil aluminum placed on black poles designed to duplicate the look of the decorative downtown street lights should all be in place within the next few weeks.

The signs being installed by city crews cost $51,190.

They are designed as a way to help support what is one of Manteca’s growing economic sectors — recreational tourism and specialty shopping.

Bass Pro Shops — the only entity to have its proper name on the signs besides Great Wolf Resorts — is a true unique Manteca destination that brings consumers to the city within a 100-mile radius. Roughly 98 percent of all purchases are by non-Manteca residents who not only pay significant sales tax to support municipal services but also pay a half cent Measure M public safety sales tax that allows the city to hire additional police and firefighters.

Part of the city’s agreement with Great Wolf Resort required them to put in place wayfaring signs.

Great Wolf — in a bid not just to direct guests to their 500-room indoor water park resort now under construction but also to help their guests find other Manteca attractions — has said such signs was critical to the success of drawing visitors.

Visitor traffic is definitely on the upswing in Manteca.

Big League Dreams currently brings in 400,000 plus people a year to Manteca, primarily through weekend tournaments that attract people from throughout Northern California and sometimes Nevada. Bass Pro Shops draws over 2 million visitors a year from a 100-mile radius. When Great Wolf Resort opens in late spring of 2020 they will lure a projected 500,000 people to Manteca.

Between those three attractions alone, Manteca will have 3 million people driving to the city with the intent to spend money, have fun or do both. The $51,910 is not only an investment in making sure they can reach their destinations as easily as possible but to also potentially get those visitors to seek out other attractions.

Manteca has long sought to develop a strong tourism segment the economy that centers on “staycations” that are short-vacations within a region where people live that requires overnight stays.