Booking a Trip to the Top

Hanatour, a two-year-old startup when it became South Korea's No. 1 travel tour operator, has its sights set on loftier destinations

"Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger," wrote Friedrich Nietzsche. Well, the German philosopher certainly would have appreciated Hanatour Service's spirit of survival. The 1998 Asian financial crisis decimated South Korea's tourism industry. But even while rivals were falling all around it, Hanatour stood tall. Not only did it not lay off a single employee, but it even managed to expand services to the dwindling number of Koreans who could still afford to travel abroad. The result: The two-year-old startup surged past bigger, established local rivals to become the country's No. 1 tour operator.

After helping hundreds of thousands of South Koreans see more of the world, Hanatour now is looking to broaden its own horizons. The company has opened offices in 22 foreign cities, including New York, Honolulu, London, Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Sydney, and plans to raise that number by 50 in four years.

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