Thousands of people protested in Tenerife today against mass tourism, calling on the Spanish island’s authorities to move ahead with temporary restrictions on tourist arrivals to stem a surge in short-term holiday rental and hotel construction that are driving up housing costs for residents. .

Holding placards reading “People live here” and “We don’t want to see our island die”, protesters called for changes to the tourism industry which accounts for 35% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the Canary Islands archipelago.

“This is not a message against the tourist, but against a tourism model that does not benefit this land and must be changed,” one of the protesters told Reuters during the march in Tenerife’s capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Smaller marches were held on other days in the island complex and in other Spanish cities. All were organized by around a dozen environmental organizations ahead of the peak summer holiday season.

The groups argue that local authorities should temporarily limit the number of visitors to ease pressure on the islands’ environment, infrastructure and housing stock and limit foreign property purchases.

“The authorities must immediately stop this corrupt and destructive model that is draining resources and making the economy more precarious. The Canary Islands have limits and so does people’s patience,” Antonio Boulon, one of the organizers of the demonstration, told Reuters.

The archipelago of 2.2 million people was visited by nearly 14 million foreign tourists in 2023, a 13 percent increase compared to 2022, according to official figures.

Local authorities are concerned about the effects this hypertourism is having on residents. A draft law expected to be passed this year that tightens rules on short-term rentals comes after protests from residents who cannot afford housing costs.

Canary Islands President Fernando Clavijo said on Friday he felt “proud” that the region is a top Spanish tourist destination, but acknowledged more controls are needed as the industry continues to grow.

“We cannot continue to blind ourselves. If we continue to ignore the problem, hotels will continue to open without any control,” he said at a press conference.