She is currently the principal secretary for tourism & culture. It’s a demanding assignment as Odisha looks to rejuvenate its tourism sector by expanding its tourist footfalls and garnering more investments. Tourism, identified as one of the six thrust
sectors by the Odisha Govt, is seen as a large growth driver and potential employment generation sector. Tasked with revamp of the state’s tourism apparatus, Mona Sharma has her hands full. She was instrumental in organising the 33rd National Convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) in Bhubaneswar from September 7-10. The mega conclave
attended by a galaxy of personalities from travel and tourism sectors, offered an ideal platform to showcase Odisha’s
strengths in tourism and the synergy it can build with the potential investors.
A doctor by qualification, she has done exemplary work during her stint as Odisha’s chief electoral officer. Before the 2014 general elections and assembly polls held simultaneously in the state, Sharma personally appealed to the people to come out in droves to cast their franchise without fear, favour or bias. Her untiring efforts ensured that 97 per cent of the eligible voters
in the state had got their Voter ID cards in the run up to the last elections. Even those without voter Ids were given slips
to vote. She spearheaded a massive household campaign to register all the eligible voters. As a result, more than two lakh voters were successfully registered in a single day. A Voter help centre was created at every district sub-collector’s office. Around five lakh NSS volunteers were engaged during the enrolment drive.
In her present role as the tourism secretary, Sharma has her task cut out. She feels tourism is the best sector for economic development and employment in Odisha with the state being truly the soul of ‘Incredible India’. “Odisha has proven strengths in art, culture, architecture and eco-tourism. Nature has given its best to Odisha. People here are very hospitable and tourists can really enjoy the hospitality of the people. We want more and more tourists to visit Odisha”, Sharma said in a recent
interview. She reckons the winds of change in Odisha have opened up new vistas for growth of the tourism sector in the state. The international airport in Bhubaneswar has become operational and infrastructure is now vastly improved for eco-tourism.
On the cultural front, the change is palpable as more national and international artistes are now keen to perform at Odisha’s cultural shows. The state which successfully hosted the Asian Athletics Championships, organising everything in an unbelievable span of just 90 days has positioned it favourably on the international stage.