Mumbai: At nearly 17 per cent, Maharashtra has emerged at the top in terms of attracting investments in the country's hospitality and tourism industry, a study by industry lobby Assocham said on Monday. "The state attracted investments worth over Rs 15,500 crore (over $2 billion) of the total outstanding investments worth over Rs 93,400 crore attracted by the hotel and tourism industry in India till June 2016," said Assocham Secretary General D.S. Rawat said of the study, 'Domestic Tourism: Tap the Treasure'. The largest chunk of investments in the sector was bagged by two western Indian states, with Maharashtra followed by Gujarat (14.5 per cent). Karnataka (around 12 per cent) topped the southern states, followed by Tamil Nadu (10) and West Bengal in the east (nine per cent), making for the top five states, Rawat said. He added that though emphasis was on luring more foreign tourists to India, the share of domestic tourists travelling within India has increased from 95.5 per cent in 1991 to over 98 per cent in 2015. However, the share of foreign arrivals declined sharply from 4.5 per cent to 1.6 per cent during the same period. In numerical terms, this comes to around 6.7 crore domestic tourists in 1991 increasing to 143.2 crore in 2015. However, despite the fall in foreign tourists, numerically it increased from three to 2.3 crore during the same period, said the study, attributing the figures to the Ministry of Tourism at the Centre. The study pointed out that there is a potential to increase the number of domestic tourists in India to increase from 143 crore in 2015 to 227 crore by 2020. "Given the growth of India's economy, expansion of the middle-classes and ongoing westernization of their lifestyles, the relative importance of domestic tourism can only be expected to increase exponentially over the coming decades," Rawat said. For this, it would be imperative for both the central and state governments to give more priority and a more integral, central role to domestic tourism in the overall tourism development in the country, especially since it provides huge employment. In terms of attracting tourists, Tamil Nadu leads the top 10 states with a share of over 23 per cent of the total (143 crore) domestic tourists in 2015, following by Uttar Pradesh (14 per cent). The other major states are Andhra Pradesh (8.5 per cent), Karnataka (8.4), Maharashtra (7.2), Telangana (6.6), Madhya Pradesh (5.4), West Bengal (4.9), Gujarat and Rajasthan (both 2.5). In terms of year-on-year growth rate, West Bengal recorded the highest increase (2014-2015) of over 43 per cent in number of domestic tourist followed by Telangana (30.5), Andhra Pradesh (30.3), all in eastern India, and central India's Madhya Pradesh (22.6) and Gujarat (17.4) in western India. The Assocham study suggested that perking up infrastructure, building tourism industry on core and naturally viable resources, between coordination among various government agencies and departments, promoting tourism circuits backed by effective marketing, promotional and road-shows are keys to enhance the domestic tourism sector in India.