San Diego’s Only Mexican-American, Female-Owned Bus Tour Company Creates Hands-on Approach to Encourage Awareness of Conservation, Art and Volunteering
The MEXICO Report
By Susie Albin-Najera
Five Star Tours is celebrating the community by creating “Tours for a Cause” artwork competition in the San Diego County area. Nine finalist designs of original artwork from participants of all ages will be featured on Five Star Tours buses and the winning design will be featured as the official “Tours for a Cause” logo during the promotion running through November. The winner will also receive complimentary Tours for a Cause series product for their classroom, youth or senior group.
Tours for a Cause is an education initiative that teaches participants about a specific cause, generating awareness and then performing an interactive approach to work with that cause. The Tours for a Cause incorporates conservation awareness of local wetlands, art appreciation and volunteering in the community for a specific cause. Participants are asked to submit artwork consisting of paintings, drawings or anything that describes the Tours for a Cause in the form of a logo. Submissions due by October 30 and can be emailed to Alfonso Hernandez at email@example.com.
Yolanda M. Hernandez is the President & CEO of Five Star Tours & Charter Company, the only Mexican-American and female-owned bus company in San Diego. She was born in El Cantil, a mountainous gold-mining area of Durango, Mexico, until her family decided to move to the border area of Tijuana when she was five years old. She was raised and educated in Tijuana. However it was not until she got married that she moved to San Diego.
Yolanda’s husband, Alfonso, was a mechanic who loved automobiles. “We met while I was getting my car fixed,” said Yolanda. “It was true love at first car repair.”
It wasn’t until Alfonso partnered up with another person that he started becoming involved in buses and then the love for buses started. He then became a part of Five Star Tours in 1982 as a partner and then in 1994, he and Yolanda took ownership of the company. Alfonso passed in 2002 and Yolanda became President and CEO, while their son Alfonso (Jr.) became active in the family business.
“It was a tough time because purchasing buses was such a cash intensive endeavor then,” said Yolanda. “I used part of my savings account and home equity line to build Five Star Tours and purchase newer equipment. It was a steady but hard road to be what it is today.”
A champion of education, Yolanda serves on the boards of the San Ysidro School District, the Lady of Mount Carmel School Board and the South Bay Joint School District. She is devoted to her community and volunteers in many committees including Casa Familiar, Proposition O Oversight Committee and is a Boys Scout Leader.
Alfonso, Yolanda’s son who plays an instrumental role at Five Star, is a green travel expert and leads the Green Travel Initiative for Five Star. The program is aimed to educate San Diegans about the benefits of leaving the smallest footprint when traveling. Alfonso has taken the Green Travel Initiative to local schools and communities to take a more interactive approach for our future to look at group transportation.
Five Star Tours services the areas of San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Baja California. For more than 20 years, Five Star has provided a variety of tours to Baja including a Wine Tour, Tequila Tasting, Baja Lobster Tour, Ensenada Nature Bay Tour among others.