While a home isolation pilot for New Zealanders travelling for work won't include Wellingtonians, businesses in the capital are clamouring for a chance to promote their brands overseas again.
Today expressions of interest open for a trial in which people travelling for business purposes can isolate within their homes, rather than try their luck at securing an MIQ spot.
Involving 150 people the trial begins next month and calls for applications from New Zealand residents who need to travel for business purposes.
At yesterday's 1pm announcement Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said participants in the self-isolation pilot must be within 50km of Auckland or Christchurch, ruling out business travellers from the capital.
Participants also had to pay $1000 for transport and other costs, and would be monitored throughout their stay, Hipkins said.
An MIQ spokesperson said Wellington was not included as its airport did not currently receive international flights.
Mario Wynands, the CEO of Wellington-based game developer and publisher PikPok, had been planning to apply but had suspected even before the announcement that Wellingtonians may not be eligible.
But in deperate need of international talent and with no certainty from the Government of when borders would open, he was heading to Colombia on the weekend to set up an offshore office.
With little assurance he could easily get back into the country on his return, Wynands said he had hoped there would be a clearer pathway for businesses 18 months into the pandemic.
"It's good to see movement and it's good to see change in MIQ allocation process," he said.
"The self-isolation pilot is also welcome, but it's all rolling out very late. It's announced and then it just seems to take forever to get out there."
Wynands says international travel had traditionally played a big role in their 25-year-old business.
"Game development is highly collaborative, it requires face-to-face, organic, ad-hoc discussion," he said.
"International travel has been a big part of the history of the studio … we export to almost every single country in the world and to 25 different languages."
"We have a global market and as part of that we also have partners all around the world who help us distribute games, market games and monetise games."
Overseas travel was important for helping maintain these relationships, but just as critical was the need for skills to be brought into the country.
"We are hiring New Zealanders and we do have people working remotely but we have a greater need than we can service through those options.
"We hire as many people as we can locally … but some skills just don't exist in the country. A lot of what the industry is doing is cutting edge."
Their inability to bring talent into the country had forced them to set up an office offshore.
"Given there hasn't been a medium to long-term pathway laid out by the Government ... we're in a situation where we're having to take matters back into our own hands."
Coventry Cars owner and operator Bruce Stewart used to travel to Japan every two months pre-Covid, and said that face-to-face meeting was an important part of maintaining overseas relationships.
"As with most businesses your contacts and your supply chains are the most important things," he said.
"It's pretty important to have decent channels and supply chains, and a lot of that is face-to-face and meeting people."
But he would not have considered applying for the home isolation trial even if Wellingtonians were eligible, he said.
"The reason for that is that I travel for four days and I couldn't be away from my business for three weeks for four days of travel to Japan," he said.
As a retail business owner he could not work from home, and said two weeks of isolation was too long to spend away from work and family – regardless of whether it was in MIQ or not.
But he said the home-isolation trial was "not a step backwards" and would probably help some businesses.
"For a business that's still sending staff overseas that would probably suit them," he said.
"For owner-operators and people that still run their business, I think most of us will stay at home and keep doing what we've been doing for the last 18 months."
Palliser's Estate chief executive Pip Goodwin said their winery businesses exported about 60 per cent of their production, and was in around 28 different countries.
"The key part of that is relationships and you can only do so much over Zoom," Goodwin said.
"Being able to go and support these markets and support our distributors in these markets is key, and it's a big part of ensuring our sales and momentum and brand awareness is continued."
She said they had one staff member who pre-Covid would have spent around six weeks a year overseas, working on these relationships in Australia, Europe and the United States.
"Over the last two years it has obviously been non-existent," she said.
"It's something that would be very beneficial, being able to get our people in front of their people and maintaining that relationship, and keeping our brand and our story alive and well overseas."
"It'd be nice now to be able to get out there and just build on those relationships that we've been trying to maintain from a distance."
While Wellington-based businesses were not eligible for the trial, Goodwin said they would be watching its progress with interest, and hoping it would signal a shift towards home isolation in the future.