STAFF at an independent travel agency in Cross Hills are celebrating after it was shortlisted as one of the top 50 agencies in the country.

Leading travel industry magazine TTG has listed Olive Lounge Travel, in Main Street, as ‘Best Yorkshire Travel Agent’.

Winners will be decided by a combination of rating by suppliers and visits to stores in every region.

The accolade comes just three years after long-time travel industry workers Joanne Edwards and Gillian Polyhos set up their own agency in Gillian’s spare room.

Joanne said: “We have only been going for three-and-a-half years so it’s amazing that we have been nominated.

“We believe that it’s our personal service that sets us apart so to get this recognition is fantastic.”

Joanne and Gillian, who both live in Silsden, had each clocked up almost two decades working for well-known travel agents in Keighley, Skipton and Ilkley before going it alone as Olive Lounge.

Joanne said: “We started in October 2015 and the business soon took off. A lot of our customers followed us so we were so busy.

“We say that we can book anything from a night out in Manchester to a fortnight in Mauritius, and everything in between.”

In April 2016 the pair opened a second branch, in Barrowford near Colne. The business now employs seven people.

That year the Olive Lounge was awarded Best Newcomer at the Global Travel group awards in Dubai.

The winners of the latest awards will be revealed at a ceremony at the end of April at ‘Vox at Resorts World’ in Birmingham.

The Top 50 Travel Agencies awards which aim to recognise excellence in retailing, are run by TTG, established in 1953 as Travel Trade Gazette but now a company offering a weekly magazine, training, and news-led website, bespoke marketing campaigns and a community for luxury travel professionals.

The awards, held in association with travel company Kuoni, comprise 20 different categories, highlighting stand-out stores in 12 different regions my categories for different kinds of agency business.

Travel agency owners were able to register their stores in regional categories, then a team of suppliers rated each store on a scale of one to five.

They considered sales volume and growth, along with each agency’s customer service, expertise and innovation.

Categories also included customer service champion, community hero, and contribution to travel.