Despite Covid Restrictions UK Still Saw 18 Million Passenger Arrivals in 2020

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 13: A coronavirus billboard near Heathrow Airport on February 13, 2021 in London, England. From 15 February travellers to the UK from a country on the UK's travel ban "red list" will be required to quarantine in a government-approved facility for ten days at their own …
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The United Kingdom witnessed 18 million passenger arrivals and issued nearly 670,000 new visas during the first year of coronavirus restrictions, prompting concern that the government will never be able to reach long-promised migration targets.

A statistical bulletin from the UK Home Office reveals that in the year preceding March 2021 — a time frame that neatly encompasses the age of coronavirus travel restrictions — the nation welcomed an “estimated” 18 million passenger arrivals and granted 668,979 visas. While both figures are, as might be expected, considerable reductions on the previous year’s figures, they still resemble huge numbers of arrivals in a time where travel was severely restrictive and under some circumstances, holidaying could meet severe penalties.

In all, passenger arrivals were down 87 per cent on the previous year, and visas 78 per cent down. In recent years, British nationals have made up the majority of passengers.

That they were still this high despite the severe curtailment of international travel imposed by most nations worldwide in 2020 shows how far the government has to go to even approach meeting the public’s expectations of controlling mass migration to the country in the future, London’s Migration Watch pressure group says. In a statement seen by Breitbart London, chairman Alp Mehmet said of the figures: “Despite the greatest crisis that the UK has seen since World War Two, massively reduced international travel and lockdowns, there were still 18 million passenger arrivals in the past year, and more than 660,000 visas issued. Meanwhile, the government put in place a new system that further wrenches open our borders to millions more people.

“It is impossible to see how they will deliver on their election promise to control and reduce numbers. Instead of keeping sweet the powerful immigration industry, they really must listen to the 30 million people who want less immigration.”

While new visas issued by the UK in the period fell by 78 per cent across the board, there was significant divergence in the different areas of migration. New visas for work were just 37 per cent lower than the year before, and the number of student visas fell by just 16 per cent. The bulletin noted of student visas issued, Chinese nationals were the largest group.

One area of significant change was applications from so-called ‘British National (Overseas)’ visas — in other words, citizens in Hong Kong exercising their right to leave the now Beijing-dominated former British colony and move to the UK. The new visas were launched last year to offer Hong Kongers a means of escape from the increasingly authoritarian Chinese puppet government in the city-state, and there have been 34,300 applications so far.

In the period, there were 176,910 applications for British citizenship, up seven per cent on the year before. This rise was predominantly driven by applications from EU citizens wishing to stay in Britain as newly minted citizens in the post-Brexit era.

That arrivals to the United Kingdom continued at such a rate — 18 million arriving in the nation despite a massive global lockdown — may be less surprising given the government’s attitudes to borders, and how starkly it contrasts to other nations. As Breitbart London reported, even as countries worldwide shut their borders down, in many cases only allowing their own citizens to return home, the UK kept its borders open, one of the only countries to do so.

The policy appears to persist. Even as the UK government enters a state of growing panic over the so-called ‘Indian variant’ of coronavirus it claims could upset its reopening schedule, flights continue to land in Britain from India.

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