Thousands took to the streets of Tenerife on Saturday, calling for the island to temporarily curb tourist arrivals to limit a surge in short-term holiday rentals and hotel construction that is increasing housing costs for locals. 

Reuters reports that protestors displayed placards stating, "People live here" and "We don't want to see our island die." They said changes are required to the tourism industry, which makes up 35% of the Canary Islands archipelago's GDP.

"It's not a message against the tourist, but against a tourism model that doesn't benefit this land and needs to be changed," stated one of the protesters to Reuters during the march in the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Elsewhere in the island group and various Spanish cities, smaller protests were organised by approximately 24 environmental groups in anticipation of the peak summer holiday season.

The organisations argue that local authorities should temporarily restrict the number of visitors to ease pressure on the islands' environment, infrastructure, and housing availability. They also propose implementing restrictions on property purchases by foreigners.

"The authorities must immediately stop this corrupt and destructive model that depletes the resources and makes the economy more precarious. The Canary Islands have limits and people's patience too," said one of the protest leaders, Antonio Bullon.

The archipelago, with a population of 2.2 million people, saw nearly 14 million foreign tourists last year, marking a 13% increase from the previous year, according to official data.

Authorities in the islands are worried about the impact on locals. A draft law, expected to be passed this year, aims to tighten regulations on short-term rentals following complaints from residents who have been priced out of the housing market.

On Friday, Canary Islands president Fernando Clavijo said he felt "proud" of the region's status as a top Spanish tourist destination but recognised the need for more control as the sector continued to expand.

"We can't keep looking away. Otherwise, hotels will continue to open without any control," he stated.

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