While the Australian government warns travellers reconsider travel to the destination, travel leaders in earthquake shattered Nepal say it is ready to welcome back tourists.

The announcement comes less than two weeks since the Himalayan nation was hit a 7.8 magnitude earthquake – its largest natural disaster since the 1920s.

The quake caused the complete destruction of several buildings, homes and villages as well as devastation to some major tourist attractions. Click here for some before and after shots.

Some 7,500 people have been killed, thousands more injured and several hundreds still missing – including one Australian hiker, whose family fear he may be buried under rubble in a remote Nepalese village.

Image: CNN

Image: CNN

Despite all the ongoing devastation and search for missing people, the President of Nepal Association of Tour Operators says the destination is still open for business and ‘welcoming visitors’.

In a statement, Ashok Pokharel said contrary to reports “Kathmandu Valley is alive, kicking and striving to thrive again”.

He said while the earthquake, which struck on 25 April, has caused damage across the country, most popular attractions are operational and damage-free.

“The majority of popular tourist areas have escaped the brunt of the damage of the recent earthquake.”

Ashok Pokharel, President of Nepal Association of Tour Operators President

He continued, saying roads and air transport links are intact and most hotels and restaurants back in operation.

Although Mr Pokharel did point out that the international airport is back up and running, latest reports say the gateway has suspended large aircraft from landing as a result of damage from the quake.

He said in order to rebuild the country would need its largest ‘pillar of the economy’, tourism.

It was scary shit, we are taking shelter in Austrilian embassy. I am here to donate my blood. #bounceback #humansofnepal #teachinghospital

Posted by Humans of Nepal on Monday, April 27, 2015

Tourism is one of Nepal’s largest industries and the largest source of foreign exchange and revenue.

In 2013, some 798,000 international tourists arrived in Nepal, with the majority taking part in adventure activities such as mountain climbing and rock climbing.

The country is also popular for its Hindu and Buddhist heritage.

“The destroyed monuments and cultural sites around the Kathmandu Valley and elsewhere need to be rebuilt, and this will provide employment and create a resurgence in traditional building methods. Therefore, we encourage travelers to come back to Nepal when a suitable time has lapsed for the injured to the treated, the mourning to be completed and the debris to be cleared.”

So far, tour operators G Adventures, Wendy Wu Tours and the Intrepid Group have cancelled itineraries to Nepal until mid-May.

All three companies will advise of any further cancellations in the coming days.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is advising travellers to ‘reconsider their need to travel’ to Nepal as a result of the quake.

The government agency says relief and recovery efforts are still underway and aftershocks are likely to occur weeks after the initial quake.

What do you think? Is it too soon to return to Nepal?