Edinburgh firm Mercat Tours hails rise in new EU recruits

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An Edinburgh tour operator has revealed a rise in new hires from the European Union as it appeared to buck the national trend for falling migration figures.

Mercat Tours, which operates history, walking and ghost tours in the capital, has recruited 15 new staff from the EU in the first two months of 2019, a 50 per cent rise compared with the same time last year.

EU citizens now account for one-third of staff at Mercat, which runs tours in several languages. Picture: Contributed

EU citizens now account for one-third of staff at Mercat, which runs tours in several languages. Picture: Contributed

The firm, named for the starting point of its tours which leave from the Mercat Cross on the Royal Mile, announced the increase as the latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that net migration from the EU to the UK fell to its lowest level in six years in the 12 months to September.

EU citizens now represent 33 per cent of the total workforce at Mercat, which provides tours in French, German, Italian and Spanish, in addition to its English-language services. It also offers written translations in Russian and Mandarin.

The business was established in 1985 by history teacher Des Brogan and three of his colleagues, who created four walking tours, two of which, Secrets of the Royal Mile and Ghosts & Ghouls, still operate today.

Kat Brogan, MD and daughter of co-founder Des, said hires from the EU remain a vital part of the business. She said: “Just like Scottish tourism, our business thrives on people. Our rich and diverse workforce from all over the world supports us in making a real impact on the tourism economy in Edinburgh.

“As Brexit approaches, it is essential for businesses like ours to do all that we can to ensure EU citizens continue to feel welcomed and valued in our country.”

Through partnerships with Queen Margaret University and Napier University, the business also offers paid placements to students.

Brogan cited the Mercat’s Responsible Business Award win at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Awards last week as an indicator of its commitment to the local community.

She added: “We always strive to ensure that our investments in our staff and community initiatives have a positive wider impact on our local environment.”