The Dominican Republic will budget $5 million to add to the $30 million, five-year loan from the Inter American Development Bank for restoring Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone as a major tourist attraction.

The funding will be included in the 2013 budget.

Enhancing the historic center of the capital city is a national priority, given the expected increase in the number of visitors due to the August opening of the new Coral Highway, which cuts drive time from Punta Cana to under two hours.

Proposals for upgrades to Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone are under study, according to Francisco Javier Garcia, tourism minister.

Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.

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