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Although Nature Sports are considered a growing phenomenon around the world, there is a lack of research and data about the organizations that are developing these activities. The purpose of this paper is to characterize the Nature Sports Organizations operating in mainland Portugal. Data was obtained through an online survey questionnaire applied to organizations which promoted Nature Sports in Portugal, both from private and public sectors, and answers were obtained. Three main types of organizations were found based on their legal form and organizational vocation: The results show significant statistical differences between the different types of organizations regarding their age, number of collaborators, and type of activities offered, as also the number and provenience of the practitioners.
It is in this perspective that sports is identified as one of the main interests of the touristic experience, highlighting outdoor adventure tourism [ 11 ]. This domain represents an intrinsic area related with sport tourism that is founded in the recreational activities that occurs in natural places, most of them classified as sports, such as kayaking, skiing, surfing [ 5 ] and mountaineering [ 12 ]. Following this idea, several authors [ 11 , 13 ] state that natural places and sport activities in the nature are clearly a major component of tourism.
Nature Sports are thus a set of sport activities developed in direct contact with nature [ 14 ], allowing sustainable development and its conservation [ 15 ]. They are performed in different natural places including air paragliding and hang-gliding, etc. This definition excludes a certain number of practices such garden visits, motorized sports, fishing and golf [ 16 ].
These activities impose motor skills that need information decoding, emotional control, and acceptance of a relative risk that is connected with an higher or less environmental uncertainty, whereby the practitioners search for multiple sensations - playfulness, extreme, well-being, discovery, sociability, etc.
Nature Sports are being incorporated in the sport tourism sector and this relation between sport and tourism is evident by the economic impacts generated in the touristic destination, visible in all scopes of nature sports practices associative, business and free or autonomous , because a significant part of them are developed in places away from the area of residence far from the urban centres , especially in natural places and rural zones, requiring a travel and a tourism consumption accommodation, food, purchase of services and equipment, etc.
Nature Sports are becoming a potential factor for tourism development, and in this sense they are activities that are integrated in Nature Tourism and Nautical Tourism, two of the ten strategic products of tourism in Portugal [ 18 ]. It must be highlighted that Nature Tourism, that includes soft e. On the other hand, Nautical Tourism, that includes Nature Sports activities such as surfing, windsurfing, sailing and other nautical sports, represents almost 3 million of travels, representing about 1.
Globally it is estimated that the Nature Tourism market including outdoor recreation and Nature Sports is the tourism sector that presents a higher growth rate for the next decades [ 21 ]. These evidences lead to considerer that Nature Sports have had a strong growth, and have been consolidating since the s as one of the most solid groups and with more future in the scope of the new sports [ 23 ] and touristic culture.
This growth is associated to the gradual appreciation of leisure time outdoors [ 24 ], to a greater need for nature contact, to a search for sensations and emotions in a routine and controlled society, and to a demand for new states of consciousness in a secular and desecrated society [ 25 ].
The Portuguese government, recognizing the importance of the touristic activities that are developed in natural places, following the Resolution of the Council of Ministers in [ 26 ], created the Portuguese Nature Tourism Programme — PNTP [ 27 ].
PNTP is part of a set of international political guidelines directed to the sustainable development of natural areas.
In the particular case of tourism, it aims to promote the recovery and conservation of the natural and cultural patrimony supported in four vectors: One year later the Nature Tourism Juridical Regime [ 28 ] was published, establishing the legal framework for Nature Tourism initiatives, exclusively in the Portuguese Protected Areas Network PPAN , aiming to promote and affirm the values and potentialities of these areas.
Recognizing the importance of sports activities developed in nature places and their potentialities for the Nature Tourism development, the government created the Nature Sports Programme in Protected Areas [ 29 ].
The programme aims to ensure the regulation of the environmental animation in the modalities of animation, environmental interpretation and nature sports in the protected areas. This law also refers the obligation to elaborate a Nature Sports Charter in each protected area, which is an attempt of structuring and at the same time conditioning the places of practice, regarding spatial and temporal dimensions, to take into account the environmental problems and impacts.
The articulation between sports and other related sectors, particularly with environment and tourism, was also defined by the Portuguese Sports Law [ 30 ] and more recently by the Physical Activity and Sports Law [ 31 ], addressing the Nature Sports sector.
With the growth of the touristic animation including Nature Sports segment, the government established for the first time the legal framework for these activities in [ 32 ]. Almost a decade after, noting that the law was outdated, a new juridical regime was created, that defines the access and exercise conditions for the touristic animation companies and maritime-touristic operators [ 10 ]. This law gathers the rules for accessing the activity regardless the modality of touristic animation performed, and creates the Portuguese Registry of Touristic Animation Agents PRTAA that contains an updated list of the agents operating in the market.
This law also predicts that the activities included in the touristic animation segment can be undertaken by other associative organizations, as long as they provide the development of these activities in its social object, have non-profit purpose, and develop these activities for their members.
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Nature Sports are indeed a complex case in the sports activities supply. These activities are, therefore, involved in the sports sector and simultaneously, when developed in protect areas, involved in the environmental sector, as well as in the tourism sector when accompanied by the travel and tourism consumption, especially in leisure time.
In Portugal, according with Cunha [ 33 ], there is a complex and conflicting network and most of the times non-complementary with a triple perspective: Thus, in accordance to the Portuguese law, NSO comprise clubs and sports societies, and also other legal entities, including commercial companies, and even individual people e.
The leisure and recreation industry is indeed important for many countries within the industrialized world [ 34 , 35 ]. Interestingly, 54 out of the companies that are in the world top are organizations related to the leisure industry [ 34 ].
The outdoor recreation industry is a broader industry component of leisure, but it plays a significant role in the economies of developed countries [ 35 ]. It has been demonstrated that most companies operating in the sector of sport tourism and Nature Sports are small or micro-companies [ 35 - 38 ].
On this regard, it has been reported that these small businesses play very important economic and social roles [ 35 ].
These companies have become a major focus of the multi-million dollar tourism industry, as they have provided an important source of foreign income and at the same time have allowed a legitimate embodiment of the aspirations of many individuals, through the generation of self-employment. These companies are also an important source of change and innovation, by creating new forms of revenue and new tax revenues.
Literature related with research on sports organizations is still scarce [ 34 ] and this is even more significant when related with organizations that promote Nature Sports. However, some studies about NSO were developed in several European countries, during the last decade [ 36 - 44 ], mostly centered in the analysis on the market of the sport tourism companies that promote Nature Sports.
These studies reported that the companies are almost all micro and small companies, with an offer composed mainly by rafting, MTB, horse riding, trekking, canyoning, and free-flight. The study developed by Bouhaouala [ 37 ] about the sport tourism companies stands out in France. This research conducted in the area of Vercors was developed under the scope of the micro-mentalities, allowed a segmentation of managers and small and micro-companies, highlighting four typologies of entrepreneurships: Each of these segments differs in management strategy, organizational choice and strategic orientation.
Results show that companies from sport and tourism present identical profile to the other companies described in the management sciences. In Portugal several studies were conducted about the touristic animation organizations [ 38 , 40 , 41 , 43 , 45 ]. Main results show that companies are almost all micro-companies, with a recent period of operation, mainly since , directing their service generally to the national market, and with scarce qualification of the human resources.
Activities of both public and private organizations are very similar despite the different scope of operation according to the law in force. Although Nature Sports are considered a growing phenomenon around the world, there is a lack of research and data about the organizations that are developing these activities, and even more about organization from the non-commercial sector. The main purpose of this paper is to provide structured information about NSO in Portugal, especially about their supply and demand, addressing the following key-questions:.
Based on the analysed studies [ 46 , 47 ] and the Portuguese law [ 29 ] 47 distinct activities that could be included in the scope of Nature Sports were identified, and were considered to be part of this study. However, some were excluded, according to the following criteria: Thus, 23 activities were identified to be part of this study: NSO that performed Nature Sports activities in mainland Portugal during were the study object of this work.
To select the organizations to be considered, the following criteria were used: This study used an online survey by questionnaire applied to managers from organizations based on the mainland territory of Portugal, between September and December of , that was called NSO Questionnaire - NSOQ The final questionnaire was composed of a total of 56 questions, with some excluded by previous answers, and the answering time was estimated to be 20 minutes average.
The questionnaire was validated by pre-testing application and expert examination [ 48 ]. The NSO sample used in this study was defined according to the following criteria: Legal form and organizational vocation was used to segment the NSO. The segments obtained were then named according to organizational vocation and characterized in terms of general profile, and supply and demand characteristics. Four main types of organizations were found: Results were presented by descriptive statistics using means and standard deviations for continuous variables, and percentages for nominal and ordinal variables.
Adjusted residuals, in the standardized form, were used to identify cells in the contingency table with significantly different behaviours from expected behaviours between variables. To explain the relationship between the categories of the variables, the residuals of less than Based on the results obtained by the NSOQ, organizations were inquired and of that, 74 From the companies, 59 On the other hand, from the associative movement, 28 The companies are mostly constituted as limited companies Sports clubs are all constituted as non-profit associations, as well as associations, except 2 which are cooperatives.
Practitioners clubs, according to the legislation in force [ 51 ], are unincorporated associations. The majority of the NSO surveyed are based in the coastal districts of the country, particularly in Lisbon They have in general a regional However some differences between NSO were observed. Sports clubs are traditionally the most ancient organizations the oldest one was founded in the year It is noted that half Associations began to arise mainly in the years s, verifying a positive trend towards the creation of such organizations Companies are the most recent NSO.
They began to emerge mainly in the year , since when It should also be noted that All practitioners clubs were created from the year , because of the entrance in to force of the law that established this type of organizations only in the year NSO have an average of 1. Companies are the NSO that have the highest average of full-time 2.
The majority of the companies have just one It was also noted that The data show thus that most of the companies are microenterprises, since It should also be evidenced that most Considering the results of the questionnaire, it is noted that the NSO offer is very diverse, taking into account the different types of organizations Table 1. Analysing the data, companies have the highest number of Nature Sports activities supplied of all NSO, with an average of 4.
Only It is noted that From the obtained data it is noted that MTB When analysing the offer by type of NSO it is noted that kayaking Regarding sports clubs offer, sailing All practitioners clubs are MTB clubs. MTB Surfing Sailing Analysing the NSO supply profile, it is observed that almost half Accommodation The majority of sports clubs organize their activities through training and competition Most of the Nature Sports activities of the associations are developed through the organization of challenges and events It is noted that most of the companies chooses to present their activities by the direction and supervision of guides and instructors Regarding NSO technician training, Most NSO stated that they select the supply of Nature Sports activities based on segmentation criteria experience level, gender, age, socio-economic profile, etc.
Interestingly, sports clubs are the type of NSO that mostly provide activities for beginners Regarding marketing strategy, most companies use services customization NSO present a differentiated demand, regarding the number of practitioners by typology of organizations Table 2.
Almost half Companies are therefore the NSO with the largest number of customers practitioners. However, most NSO indicate that the number of practitioners stalled The frequency of demand is much lower in companies, with the majority Sports clubs are the NSO that have higher demand, since about half The practitioners regularly seek activities in associations at least once a year The practitioners belong mostly In sports clubs the participation by age is almost similar between the groups of less than 18 years Concerning gender, the prevalence of male practitioners is evident in The gender differences are even more evident in sports clubs where participation is mostly composed of males The NSO stated that, in general, the practitioners who seek their services for the first time are beginners No differences were found between the different types of NSO.
The geographical origin of the practitioners of sports clubs and associations is essentially restricted to the regional For companies, the origin of practitioners is mainly national However, the seasonality of the demand is more pronounced in the companies as However, the majority Respondents of this questionnaire are managers of the respective NSO, of which Most A great part The average number of hours dedicated to the organization is very different between respondents of companies and from the other organizations.
Half Respondents in general This paper presents a general analysis of the supply and demand of the organizations that are promoting Nature Sports in Portugal, an area with little empirical research conducted until now. Four typologies of NSO were identified: However, it should be noted that we collected just 4 responses for practitioners clubs, and so the results of these organizations are limited.
The organizations are localized mostly on the main coastal districts of the country. This may be explained by the asymmetries of the resident population, mostly in the interior districts [ 52 ], and it has consequences in the evident asymmetries for the sports activities dissemination in the country [ 53 ]. Most organizations surveyed have a regional or national territorial scope to develop their activities highlighting, however, a greater tendency of sports clubs to the national territorial scale of operation.
The data shows the potential of Nature Sports to tourism, which usually is developed in the natural or rural areas, often far from major urban centres, potentiating the consumption and consequently the local economy where the Nature Sports activities are developed. Sports clubs are the most ancient NSO. They are all non-profit associations, and the most specialized organizations regarding Nature Sports activities supply, as most of them perform just one Nature Sports activity.
Due to their traditional vocation based in the formal competitive sport, sports clubs develop Nature Sports activities mainly by training and competition, and by challenges and events organizations. As a consequence, they have less seasonality then the other types of NSO, and a more frequent participation by their practitioners.
In this way, they are positioned in the ascetic and competitive organizational model presented by Pociello [ 54 ]. The associations are younger then sports clubs and older then companies. They are almost all non-profit associations, excepting two that are cooperatives.
This data indicates that the associations have an organizational pattern presenting a much wider organizational spectrum and thus a more enlarged supply then the sports clubs, allowing their members to have a more eclectic Nature Sports practice, ranging from the formal to the non-formal scope.
There are evidences of an evolution that occurred in the sports associative movement, perceiving the lack of adaptation by sports clubs to the new and growing sports demand that search for a non-formal and non-competitive practice, the associations, present a different Nature Sports activities supply, related with a hygienist, hedonistic and adventurous form of doing sport, as already described in other studies [ 55 ].
Almost all associative movement managers are young males, with high education level and high qualified professions. The increasing sports activities commercialization, and Nature Sports in particular, is closely associated with the growth of leisure and tourism industry, especially by new tourism segments that arise associated with the growing demand for active holidays [ 1 ].
Thus, several sport commercial structures emerged, established to meet the needs expressed, commercializing their products with emphasis on playful, accessible and unrestricted sports practices [ 42 , 55 , 56 ].
Understanding Nature Sports Organizations in Portugal
The business creation process followed a logic that began with the discovery of sports activities, reinforced later by the emergence of an increasingly dynamic market [ 57 ]. This process emerged in the late s to the mids, due to the favourable socioeconomic conditions for development of Nature Tourism [ 44 , 57 ], and to the commitment of local and regional government bodies regarding socio-economic development job creation, local population maintenance, etc.
The companies operating in the Nature Sports sector in Portugal are mostly constituted as limited companies, and sole proprietors. They are mainly microenterprises, with a recent and familiar foundation, as already pointed in other works [ 35 , 36 , 42 ]. They present a high seasonality on demand, a high number of Nature Sports activities in their offer, and consequently a little specialized supply, that could be explained by attempting to combat seasonality. The majority of the companies also offer complementary activities, centred mainly in accommodation and photography.
Companies seem to be the organizations that are best adapted to the changing demand for Nature Sports. This is so obvious that most companies that are offering surfing as the main developed activity have cumulatively a surf school inscribed in the respective federation.
Almost all the managers of the companies are young males, have their main work in the companies, and have a high commitment towards the organizations, dedicating more than 40 hours per week to them. Despite that, all NSO have few technicians with high education in general sports or in Nature Sports.
The training of human resources and their technical and human skills are, in this sector, a critical point for NSO success, as evidenced by Martin and Palakshappa [ 35 ]. The definition of minimal competence for Nature Sports technicians to increase the quality of these agents should be subject to regulation, to contribute to improved safety and quality of Nature Sports services. The main divulgation and distribution channels used by NSO are internet-based.
This data shows that all types of NSO are adapting their management and marketing procedures to the new technologies, and thus to the new habits of consumption and to the profile of the demand. The Nature Sports activities demand is composed, in almost all NSO, by male and young years individuals, mainly from mainland territory of Portugal.
In general, there is a tendency for increase in the number of practitioners for the group between 18 and 35 years reaching the highest number of practitioners , compared to the previous group under 18 years and then a gradual decrease with increasing age. This data has also been pointed in other similar studies [ 36 , 44 ]. The results thus evidence participation asymmetries according to gender and age.
In sports clubs this is not so obvious, because they have a considerable number of individuals under 18 years Most practitioners are beginners when they first look for Nature Sports activities. The number of practitioners participating in the different NSO is also diverse: The geographical origin of the practitioners of sports clubs and associations is essentially restricted to the regional territory, in contrast to the national and regional origin in companies.
The results reflect the hedonistic tendency of society, associated to higher search for the compromise-free offer of organisations, in contrast to the commitment nature of sports clubs. Most organizations also consider that the Nature Sports sector has growth potential over the next 10 years. Analysing the general supply by type of NSO, it is also possible to understand the overall potential of Nature Sports activities and their potential in Portugal.
Contrariwise, skimboarding and skiing corresponds to the Nature Sports activities offered by less NSO, representing thus the activities with less global potential. Kayaking is the activity offered by more companies, sailing by more sports clubs, and MTB by more associations. In the opposite direction, rowing and skimboarding are the Nature Sports activities with less commercial potential; canyoning, caving, skiing, mountaineering, rafting, skimboarding, and free flight have the less competitive potential; and skiing and windsurfing present the less associative potential.
Kayaking is also the Nature Sports activity developed more frequently by the major number of NSO, while surfing is by more companies, MTB, sailing and multi-activities by more sports clubs, and MTB and trekking by most associations, representing thus the higher potential in each scope of practice: Surfing is also the main demanded Nature Sports activity by the international market.
This data also show some problems already detected in this sector [ 19 ], despite there is no doubt about the importance of the small business in the leisure sector and the role that they play in the economy [ 34 ], especially in Portugal. The small size of the companies may represent a difficulty, for example, to implement more effective systems of production, innovation and quality improvement, access to advanced technology, quality of human resources, effective marketing formulas, weak negotiation power regarding demand, intermediaries, suppliers, etc.
All these factors affect negatively the competitiveness of each company, and finally Portugal as a Nature Sports and Nature Tourism destination.
Despite all, Portugal has a great potential to develop Nature Sports and Nature Tourism, considering its geomorphologic dimension and climatic characteristics that allow the development of a wide range of Nature Sports activities, under optimal conditions, throughout the year.
It is not easy to find such a variety and density of specific places to develop Nature Sports activities in such a small area. Portugal has extensive rural areas and natural spaces, with or without special protection protected areas , as the beach and the sea, several rivers and other aquatic spaces, mountains and cliffs, etc.
In order to achieve greater penetration in the Portuguese population at the level of France, for example , Nature Sports should be developed through a differentiated and articulated offer among all sectors associative, municipal, educational, business, federated, etc. Moreover, he states that the supply should be constantly renewed and improved with creative contents. The ideal scenario would be when NSO management fulfils these criteria in Portugal.
Data also shows that the specialization appears to be a critical success factor to supply Nature Sports for the international market. The majority of the companies that have mainly an international demand are offering a reduced number of Nature Sports activities, since According to the data, to compete in the international market, it is important to present a specialized offer regarding Nature Sports activities.
Additionally, the offer should be an integrated tourism package that includes accommodation, food, and other complementary services, as already pointed in previous works [ 19 , 20 ]. To date, few studies analyse the importance of Nature Sports activities to the economy, and its contribution to local development, in Portugal.
In the future, it is important to develop studies about Nature Sports impacts, not just in the economic dimension, but also in sociocultural and environmental ones.
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