Australia’s travel restrictions have been tightened and are being used to punish travellers for using the country’s popular online shopping sites such as Alibaba and Zappos.
The move comes as the Government looks to clamp down on overseas shopping by imposing visa bans and curbs on online travel.
It’s a tactic used to keep out visitors from Australia, which is already struggling with a record of poor tourism and record-low demand.
The Government is restricting travel to seven countries: India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Aidan Byrne, an Australian-born Australian citizen, was among those affected by the new restrictions.
He told ABC Radio Melbourne he was shocked to discover his plans to visit Canada, which he’d been planning for months, were being blocked.
He said it was not an easy decision but he needed to get away from the restrictions.
“I feel like a criminal for trying to go there.
They’ve made me feel like I’m a criminal.
That’s my point of view, that’s why I’m leaving,” he said.
The crackdown has sparked protests in Australia.
Malaysian travel minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has warned that a new crackdown could lead to a surge in crimes against foreigners.
He said the new ban would not be effective in deterring crime and would instead increase the number of “criminals” using the internet to circumvent Australia’s restrictions.
Australia’s Tourism Minister said he was “confident” it would not impact tourism.
“It’s going to be a temporary restriction for a short period of time, but that’s because it’s a temporary measure,” he told the ABC.
“We’re trying to prevent people from entering our country, we’re trying not to encourage them to come to Australia.”AIG Travel Insurance Australia says a number of its members are affected by Australia’s latest travel restrictions.
Australia’s government has also stepped up efforts to curb overseas travel, with travel site ZappOS to limit visitors to five countries from April, and online travel site Alibaba banned from travel to 10 countries.
However, the new rules do not apply to Australians.
The ban is being used by the Government to prevent Australians from visiting Canada, where tourists have been hit hard by a record number of visa-free arrivals in the past two years.
Earlier this week, the Government imposed travel restrictions in New Zealand, Ireland, Malaysia and Vietnam.