By RAY QUIROGA
South Padre Parade
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone more suited for their job than DeeOnda Ahadi.
Spunky, friendly, sassy, and with the wit to boot, Ahadi is not only employed by the South Padre Island Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, she heads the entity’s SPI Visitor’s Center, located a half mile north of causeway on the Island at 600 Padre Blvd.
Ahadi’s official title is Tourism Services Manager, a position she garnished in October of this year. “I have 27 years of hospitality experience,” Ahadi said with her usual smile, adding that she has worked for South Padre Island for the past five years.
Certificates and certifications aside, Ahadi began her career in the service industry waiting on tables and working in hotels. In fact, the service industry is in her blood; her father is the owner of Marcello’s Italian Restaurant in Port Isabel and before that, he co-owned the Bahia Mar Resort on the Island with his brother. “It’s given me a nice mixture of tourism and business and bringing them together in how can we help businesses bring in tourists and how can we help tourists find the businesses they are looking for,” Ahadi explained.
Ahadi said that the thousands of tourists and locals who walk through the visitor’s center can find all sorts of information and literature on the area. “We have a lot of information on what people can do if the weather goes south and it gets miserable out there. And luckily we have a lot of options,” she said. Those options include everything from the local museums, art and nature centers to live music.
Ahadi also invites local musicians and music groups to provide the center with recordings so she can air local artists through the center’s sound system and promote area bands to visitors.
Last year, the center welcomed roughly 55,379 guests that walked through its doors with January attracting the most guests with two full-time and two part-time employees manning the center.
The Visitor’s Center is open Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. 600 Padre Blvd., a half-mile north of the causeway. For more information, call (956) 761-6433, or (800) SOPADRE (767-2373).