Irish eyes are smiling on the U.S.

Waving the Irish flag

TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: Foreign tourists to the U.S. are on a shopping binge thanks to a weak dollar. It's especially true in New York City. Of all the nationalities, it's the Irish leading the charge. From New York, here's Don Duncan.


Don Duncan: It's Friday afternoon, and sisters Grainne Charges and Sinead Butler are back at Macy's after making a killing the day before.

Here's Grainne:

Grainne Charges: I've bought a lot of clothes, shoes. I bought a ring yesterday in Macy's -- $900, which is extremely cheap.

These deals are cheap not only because of the favorable exchange rate. The Irish also have more money in their pockets. Ireland enjoys the fastest-growing economy of any country in the Eurozone. And that's bringing hundreds of thousands of Irish to New York for just one thing:

Caroline Moylan: Shop, shop, shop, shop, shop.

That's Caroline Moylan from Galway, Ireland. According to U.S. government figures, more than half of Irish people who fly to New York each year do so in the three months running up to Christmas.

Mary Mckenna manages Irish travel company Tour America:

Mary Mckenna: First of all, it's easier to get there now. We've more airlines. The travel cost has really come down.

Irish tourism to New York is among the fastest-growing of all nationalities, clocking a 12 percent increase over last year.

George Fertida: We're gonna get almost 300,000 visitors form Ireland this year.

That's George Fertida, CEO of NYC and Company, New York's tourism promotion organization.

Fertida: They literally spend more per capita than any other single group. Where the average spender spends about $235 a day, the Irish traveller spends almost $390 a day.

Irish Consul General Niall Burgess says the shopping is creating havoc for some New York hotels.

Niall Burgess: There's a well-known Irish hotel on Lexington avenue that has had to deal with a growing waste problem, created largely by Irish shoppers who leave empty packing cases and boxes in their bedrooms when they check out.

Back at Macy's, Regina Cooney from County Cork says she's not going to leave any trash behind -- but she still has a few things to pick up.

Regina Cooney: I have three kids, so there's lots of requests.

With her shopping budget at 3,400 euros, Regina gets $5,000 for those requests.

Cooney: I'm not good at sums, but I mean, even I can figure out that that's a good saving.

In New York, I'm Don Duncan for Marketplace.

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