16 Sep 2021

Sports teams, business people and entertainers using MIQ spots

7:07 am on 16 September 2021

The Bangladesh cricket team will have been able to visit New Zealand twice this year, before many New Zealanders abroad have been able to return at all.

Bangladeshi cricketers celebrate a wicket.

The Bangladesh cricket team has been to New Zealand twice this year. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Also coming through the hotly contested MIQ system is the Netherlands cricket team, who are ranked lower than Afghanistan in the International Cricket Council (ICC) One Day International (ODI) rankings.

Other special group MIQ allocations have been made public, including over 1300 rooms set aside from now until February for staff from international Antarctic programmes, and 400 rooms for businesspeople and entertainers going to Expo 2020 Dubai from October.

This is while many New Zealanders cannot return home due to the scarcity of MIQ rooms.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) said one week in mid-August there was an average of 19,781 unique users on the site each day. There are only 4000 total rooms available each fortnight, or less than 300 a day on average, so at that point there were 65 times the number of people looking for rooms as there were rooms available.

The group allocations are decided by government ministers led by Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi. To be eligible, groups need to be sponsored by a government agency, and must be determined by the ministers to be in the national interest or have a "significant" economic impact. National security or international obligations are also a permitted reason.

Following Bangaldesh's arrival - the third time New Zealand will have played them in a series within 12 months - the South Africa and Netherlands cricket teams will arrive for a late summer tour. All three teams are granted 35 rooms each, sponsored by Sport NZ.

The Black Caps also have three ODIs and a T20 scheduled in Australia in February 2022. If those are played and should the quarantine-free travel bubble not be reimposed, the team will need MIQ rooms on their return.

Since the start of 2021, the Black Caps and the teams they have played or are scheduled to (Australia, Bangladesh twice, South Africa and the Netherlands) domestically have required or been granted 272 MIQ rooms.

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When all MIQ facilities are available, there are 4900 rooms available per fortnight, but around half are not used by Managed Isolation Allocation System bookings. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

More Antarctic scientists and staff have been granted MIQ rooms, on top of ones announced earlier this year.

From this month until February next year, 1312 MIQ rooms have been set aside for the US, Korean and European Antarctic programmes. This is on top of 820 granted between August 2020 and February this year, and another 204 in July 2021. These are sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

Christchurch is deemed a gateway city and logistics hub for people and goods movement to the continent.

Four hundred rooms have been set aside for Dubai Expo attendees, between October 2021 and March 2022, also sponsored by MFAT. The event is a large global expo advertising New Zealand's trade, tourism and business interests. It will be attended by New Zealand entertainers.

Rooms have also been given to 450 foreign fishermen arriving over the next three months, sponsored by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The New Zealand Defence Force has 298 rooms available for them between October and February for its staff. It also had another 89 return in June and July this year.

Crankworx, a mountain bike festival, has 70 rooms next month.

Exporters sponsored by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have secured 50 rooms across November and December.

And from November through to March, a host of sports teams arrive into the country:

  • All Blacks (65 rooms)
  • Black Ferns (65 rooms)
  • Black Caps (77 rooms)
  • Bangladesh cricket team (35 rooms)
  • Women's Cricket World Cup (181 rooms)
  • Silver Ferns (24 rooms)
  • South Africa cricket team (35 rooms)
  • Winter Olympics returnees (53 rooms)
  • Netherlands cricket team (35 rooms)
  • Winter Paralympians (11 rooms)

Only around half of the available rooms in the MIQ system are actually used by regular New Zealanders booking through the Managed Isolation Allocation System (MIAS).

When all MIQ facilities are available, there are 4900 rooms available per fortnight, but a total of 2400-2550 are not used by MIAS bookings:

  • 350-500 are set aside for large groups and special allocations
  • 350 for emergency allocations
  • 900 rooms set aside for contingency
  • 15 percent or 600-odd lost to cohorting
  • 4-7 percent or 200-odd lost due to no shows

Occasionally hotels are unavailable due to maintenance or ventilation issues.

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