The US Allows You To Go To Cuba, If Your Name Is Beyonce Or Jay-Z

Cuba off limits? No way.

Forget travel restrictions… if you’re Beyonce that is.

For their fifth wedding anniversary, Beyonce and Jay-Z picked Havana as the spot to celebrate their marital bliss, and were granted the right to go by the United States Treasury Department.

Although the Obama administration has eased restrictions on travel to Cuba, most Americans have to jump through lots of bureaucratic hoops to receive permission to get there.

What happens when a famous person gets to do what most of the rest of us don’t? It causes a bit of a media storm. Beyonce was referred to as a tool of “Castro propaganda” and the trip was highly criticized. Maybe the Obama administration was chalking it up to “cultural exchange”?

Wherever you stand on the Cuba issue, the Beyonce/Jay-Z effect has done one thing: bring U.S.-Cuba relations front and center in traditional media. If TMZ is talking about it, it must be important.

[Photo credit: JMParonne]

China Bans Foreign Travelers From Tibet

China bans travel to TibetFollowing a series of high profile protests over the past few months China has quietly taken steps to close the borders of Tibet. The closure means that foreign travelers are once again banned from entering the Buddhist country just as the busiest travel period of the year is about to begin.

Last Wednesday, a number of tour operators in Beijing announced that the government had instructed them to stop booking foreign travelers into Tibet for the foreseeable future. The move comes just as the popular Saga Dawa festival, which typically brings an influx of visitors, got under way yesterday. That festival is an annual celebration of the birth of Buddha, which is of particular importance within Tibetan culture.

China’s decision to close the borders is in direct response to recent protests within Tibet, which included three monks committing suicide by setting themselves on fire in the month of May alone. Two of those self-immolations took place in the nation’s capital of Lhasa, a city which previously hadn’t been subjected to those types of protests. Over the course of the past year 36 people have committed suicide in a similar fashion throughout the country.

In addition to closing the borders, the Chinese government has also moved an additional 3000 troops into Lhasa and arrested an estimated 600 Tibetans. The crackdown is expected to continue indefinitely and could shut down travel into the country for weeks or even months.

If you have plans to visit Tibet in the near future you’ll definitely want to check the status of your tour or whether or not entry visas are being granted. It seems that for at least the next few weeks there will be no one getting into the country.

[Photo credit: Philipp Roelli via WikiMedia]

GadlingTV’s Travel Talk 007: How to build an Igloo, end of Cuban travel ban?, business model of Somali pirates & more!


GadlingTV’s Travel Talk, episode 7 – Click above to watch video after the jump

Ever wanted to build an igloo? We’re savoring the end of the snow season by taking you to the Sierras to show you how!

This week we’ll also discuss the White House’s second attempt to nominate a TSA Director, why Cuba is developing faster than ever, the business model behind the Somali pirate industry, and a popular tourist destination where a kiss could land you in jail.

We’ve got a new (spicy) Tasteful Destination for you, and some little known facts about a tea you know and love with Tea Time. Grab a blanket or cup of hot cider and enjoy!

If you have any questions or comments about Travel Talk, you can email us at talk AT gadling DOT com.

Subscribe via iTunes:
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Hosts: Stephen Greenwood, Aaron Murphy-Crews, Drew Mylrea
Produced, Edited, and Directed by: Stephen Greenwood, Aaron Murphy-Crews, Drew Mylrea


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Music:

Tea Time
“Revenge of the flying monkeys, part 2”
Ayetoro

Tasteful Destinations
“Stop Yield Go Merge”
Derek K Miller
http://www.penmachine.com/
(courtesy of Musicalley.com)

Adventure of the Week
“Wake”
Finn Riggins
http://myspace.com/finnriggins



Travel to Cuba legally with New York art museum package

Travel to Cuba is still illegal for most Americans, but if you don’t want to challenge the law or take your chances sneaking there and back, you can still arrange a visit. The Katonah Museum of Art, in Katonah, New York, has been authorized to lead a tour group to Cuba.

Participants on the trip, which is scheduled for January 17-23 of next year, will visit Havana and learn about Cuban culture through visits to museums, holy sites, and the homes and studios of 14 Cuban artists. The package costs $4,400 per person for double occupancy($4,600 for singles) and participants must also pay a $700 tax-deductible membership fee to the Katonah Art Museum. The price includes airfare from Miami to Havana, five nights at a five-star hotel in Havana, ground transportation, daily breakfasts and lunches, several dinners, all group activities and sightseeing, and insurance, taxes and visa fees.

Reservations for the trip must be made by October 19 and the Museum does expect the tour to sell out.

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[via Matador Pulse]