KATHMANDU Most lodges and hiking trails near Mount Everest suffered only minimal damage during two devastating earthquakes in Nepal this year, according to a government-commissioned report that will offer some hope to a battered tourism industry.
The quakes struck Nepal in April and May, triggering avalanches on the world's highest mountain and killing 8,900 people, including scores of foreign climbers and trekkers.
"The majority of accommodation structures and trails have sustained minimal damage from the April and May earthquakes," said the report by California-based engineering firm Miyamoto International.
The paper seen by Reuters on Thursday added that Nepal must now carry out a detailed assessment of the region after the ongoing rainy season to manage further risks to trekkers.
The government commissioned the report into the safety of the Everest region and the Annapurna trekking circuit after Western insurance firms hiked premiums for travellers after the quakes.
Nepal's tourist industry, which contributes about four percent to the economy, could see a 40 percent decline on last year, officials have said.
Around 140,000 trekkers and climbers visit the Annapurna circuit and Everest region every year, about 70 percent of all hikers to the country.
(Editing by Tommy Wilkes and Andrew Heavens)