The designers or a series of art deco-style postcards say they were never meant to be branded as "anti-tourism".
The Do Not Visit Victoria series was created by Melbourne's Jess Wheeler and Guillermo Carvajal. They hope to reimagine the series once Melburnians are out of lockdown and free to travel again.
The feature art deco landscapes of regional towns with slogans aimed at encouraging Melbourne residents to stay home and not potentially increase coronavirus cases in the region.
Bendigo and Heathcote were both featured in the series with the slogans reading - "Bendigo: The gold standard in not have s**tloads of coronavirus thank you very much" and "Experience the vibrant vineyards of Heathcote at your MF'ing local goddamn bottle-o"
Mr Wheeler said the images were created to convey the importance of not spreading COVID-19 from Melbourne to regional Victoria.
"The images were never branded by us as an 'anti-tourism campaign', that became a media term," he said.
"The reality is that right now people from lockdown areas of Melbourne should not be putting regional towns at risk. The longer this goes on, the longer tourism will be shut down. We are trying to help people understand that staying at home now means we can all travel again sooner."
City of Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O'Rourke was critical of the designs saying they could be construed as divisive and could deter visitation to regions in the long term.
"This campaign is in poor taste and actually quite divisive," she said. "While we are currently in different stages of lockdown across Victoria, to make it to the other side of COVID-19 we all need to be doing the right thing, not encouraging an 'us and them' mentality.
"Regional areas are definitely feeling the loss of tourists from Melbourne and while we all know what needs to be happening currently, we want to be welcoming back these tourists when the time is right.
"It would be very upsetting if this campaign deterred visitation in the long term and while people from regional areas can move around, we should try to support each other where we can."
Mr Wheeler said he and Mr Carvajal only ever wanted to support regional Victoria.
"We've said a number of times that we'd like to re-imagine the images to welcome people back once lockdown is over," he said.
"We set up a store primarily to give people access to the artwork due to the high demand. It isn't geared to make money, but if it does, we'll donate it."
Bendigo Tourism board chair Finn Vedelsby said a welcome back to regional Victoria campaign was a good idea.
"That would be a good follow up. I'm sure they're getting some negative feedback and I hope they are inspired to do something great," he said.
"It was in poor taste and grating for people who can't leave (Melbourne) and grating for people who can't receive the normal level of tourism and are therefore struggling to pay bills.
"When it came up in my Facebook feed, it was certainly grating to see it considering the decades of hard work of the Bendigo Tourism Board being memed away like.
"So it was a joke in poor taste, but I'm all for comedy and freedom and speech. I'm not offended by it."
Mr Wheeler said there had been a lot of positive response to the postcards.
"It's on display for people to see on the original content that the response has been overwhelmingly positive," he said. "We've been sent story after story from an endless list of residents from towns who are fearful of this virus being spread by people from Melbourne.
"Some have been making their own slogans. They've been sharing and tagging their friends and family. Everyone has resonated with the message. We are incredibly disheartened by the weight of reporting to the negative."