Rebuilding the impoverished Himalayan nation's fragile economy will require a long slog, financed by foreign aid and money from its army of overseas workers.

Initial estimates peg the economic damage from the temblor that killed more than 5,000 people at billions of dollars.

The tourism industry, a pillar of the economy, has been shattered and it's unclear when the travellers will return.

"It's been devastating. Their tourism economy has obviously come to a halt," said Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific economist with IHS.

Biswas forecasts the cost of reconstruction could exceed USD 5 billion or about 20 percent of Nepal's economy.

An initial estimate by the US Geological Service reckons damages of USD 1 billion to USD 10 billion.

Other analysts say it's far too early to assess the full cost. Tourism provides 7 percent of Nepal's jobs and accounts for 8 percent of the economy, according to the Asian Development Bank.

"I've had all my reservations cancelled. I have nil bookings left," said Hari Man Lama, of Incentive Tours, a travel company in Kathmandu.

The quake, which struck in the middle of the tourist high season, destroyed nearly half of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kathmandu and triggered avalanches on Everest that killed 19.

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