Border security enhanced in resort

Baggage-screening of international arrivals at Queenstown Airport has been bolstered by a $50,000 biosecurity X-ray machine.

One of four installed at New Zealand's international airports in the past week, it is intended to reduce the odds of unwanted pests or diseases entering the country.

Ministry of Primary Industries detection technology manager Brett Hickman said the Malaysian-made machine scanned the baggage of overseas travellers for plant and animal products that posed a risk to the country's primary industries and natural environment.

Although its main use was to detect biosecurity risk items such as fruit and other food, it could also detect items of interest to Customs and the Department of Conservation.

It was also more reliable, offered better image quality and increased the airport's screening capacity.

''This means border staff will be better equipped to spot biosecurity risk items before they enter New Zealand, and we will have the capacity to increase the level of screening during times of high alert.''

It was one of three new X-ray machines in Queenstown Airport's international terminal that would ''help us to handle the growth in passenger numbers'', he said.

The Ministry had installed 19 new X-ray machines throughout the country in the past three years, bringing the total number in operation at international airports, the Auckland International Mail Centre and military bases to 27.

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