The Art Deco style images feature signature scenes of each place and a slogan seasoned with swear words. A picture of penguins on a beach says, “Enjoy picturesque Phillip Island / on Google Streetview, you sh*t head”.
An image from Mansfield’s main street says: “It will be literally breathtaking if you a**eholes don’t keep your distance from Mansfield”.
Mr Carvajal said he and Mr Wheeler acted out of frustration and fear at seeing people leave town as COVID-19 cases soared.
They felt strong language might persuade stubborn travellers to “stay the f— at home”.
The pair have now set up an online shop to sell mugs, T-shirts, stickers and towels, with plans to donate proceeds to charity.
But Mr Carvajal said anyone could download the images, as long as they did not use them for profit.
One fan of the cards offered further suggestions for the creators.
“We need one for Warrnambool and the Great Ocean Road,” said a woman posting on Facebook. “I live on the GOR and we have had so much traffic that it can’t all be local.”
However, Shane Kidd, president of the Lakes Entrance Business and Tourism Association, said he was appalled at the slogan for his town: “Say hello to beautiful Lakes Entrance on Zoom for f*ck’s sake”.
He said Lakes Entrance had suffered from the summer bushfires and COVID-19 but still welcomed visitors.
“We’re very reliant on day-trippers and short-stayers to keep coming from regional areas in Victoria, specifically the Latrobe Valley and east of Melbourne,” Mr Kidd said.
Apollo Bay Chamber of Commerce president Bob Knowles said the images were an attempt to amuse but misguided.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to tell people to f— off, in any circumstances,” Mr Knowles said. “I think it’s misguided and these people don’t understand the huge importance of the visitor population to small marginal towns.”
Mansfield Shire mayor Marg Attley said it was “really disappointing” and her community wasn’t consulted.
“We’re supporting the messaging from the state government … that visitors from Melbourne shouldn’t be here, but obviously we are welcoming regional visitation because that’s what’s allowed at the moment,” Cr Attley said.
Mr Carvajal said the project was tongue in cheek.
Asked if it could be harmful to regional Victoria, he said the economy was a sensitive topic, but the priority had to be to get the virus numbers down to get back to normal.
“If we keep acting the way we’re acting, we’re not going to get there.”
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Carolyn Webb is a reporter for The Age.