A travel influencer has been confronted by officials and fined for walking through an Australian airport with a single rose she had not correctly declared on her passenger card.
Lays Laraya says she accidentally breached customs laws when she was gifted a flower by cabin crew on her Qatar Airways flight into Perth recently.
The travel addict, who has racked up hundreds of flights to more than 60 countries, argued she had not tried to sneak the flower into Australia and that it was an innocent mistake, not knowing it was a prohibited plant.
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But officials took a hardline approach, stopping her in the airport and fining her $1878 for knowingly providing false or misleading information on her arrival card.
“At no given moment did I intend to break any rule,” she said.
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“The truth is that I overlooked the fact that the rose, given to me with so much affection on board, was an item that had to be declared obligatorily.”
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry said travellers had to understand and abide by Australia’s strict biosecurity requirements.
Australia’s Invasive Species Council says imported roses can provide hiding spots for invasive pathogens, parasites and other pests that can harm native plants or animals.
Lays Laraya was fined after stepping off a plane in Perth carrying a rose. Credit: skywardsfreak /Instagram
Laraya, who shares her adventures with more than 37,000 followers across Instagram and YouTube, said she would have thrown the flower away if she knew she was doing something wrong.
“Each country has its own rules and we must, in fact, become aware of these before boarding, being mindful of what we put in our luggage in order to prevent unfortunate incidents,” she said.“It is worth mentioning that I was treated with the most sincere hospitality by the Australian Border Force team, upon departing Australia last week.”
After initially deactivating her Instagram account, Laraya can now joke about the ordeal and has shared a video of the coverage generated by her error.
“The HR person googling my name next time I apply for a job,” she captioned the video, which showed her scrolling through news headlines.
Australian authorities take a strict approach to border security. Credit: SARAH MOTHERWELL/AAPIMAGE
Australian Border Force warns travellers “don’t be sorry, just declare it” and penalties can be harsh if dodgy activity is uncovered.
A woman was fined $20,000 in August after being caught lying to ABF officers about how many tobacco products she was bringing into Perth from Qatar.
She told authorities she was only carrying two cartons of cigarettes but was found during an X-ray and baggage search with much more that was not declared.
The ABF says it is legal to bring in more than the duty-free amount of tobacco and cigarettes, but goods must be declared and all relevant taxes paid on arrival into Australia.
“This is a reminder to anyone entering Australia to carefully consider everything you are bringing into the country and ensure it is correctly declared,” ABF Commander Ranjeev Maharaj said.
“We expect passengers to be truthful in their declarations and when being interviewed by an ABF officer. Those who aren’t risk significant penalties, such as what we have seen on this occasion.”
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