Between lifestyle sports and ecotourism
In Brazil, the increasing popularity and commercialisation of so-called ‘adventure practices’ have resulted in fatal accidents in horse riding, bungee jumping, and rappelling. This has led politicians, pressured by the victims’ families, to propose law projects on risk regulation. Insiders in different areas in the fields of practice reacted against these initiatives. The chapter investigates the interests in conflict within this arena. The data sources are government documents and publications on specialised websites regarding these policies. The methodological strategies are document analysis combined with digital ethnography. Simultaneously with the law projects debate, the Brazilian Association of Ecotourism and Adventure Tourism (ABETA), created from an entrepreneur’s alliance in 2004, in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, received public money to elaborate a national programme to standardise risk management, called ‘Aventura Segura’ (Safe Adventure). Although national athletic governing bodies (paragliding, parachuting, mountaineering, and orienteering), called for the programme’s annulment, arguing that it was superficial and inadequate, ‘adventure practices’ are sports by definition and their institutions, volunteering their time, already had risk control protocols, waiting for financial state incentives to be implemented. They also requested the creation of a Committee of Adventure Sports (CEA) related to the Ministry of Sports, which was instituted in 2006. Some CEA members argue that ABETA actions are illegal according to the Federal Constitution principle of administration autonomy for national sport entities. However, the court judged that adventure tourism is different from adventure sports. Furthermore, after years of rewriting, legislators vetoed the two law projects on the topic. They interpreted hiring adventure services as a private commercial relationship, and considered that the Consumer Code was already sufficient for its regulation. The Ministry of Sports representative never appeared at the public audiences called to inform the law projects that were being polled. The CEA, lacking incentive, ceased its activities in 2007. Brazilian sports legislation, since its creation in 1988, is incongruent and favours the male professional football sector. In 2003, the government opened up the possibility of changing this incongruence through the National Sports Conference, a biennial event where the public gives input into the creation of policies. In the 2004 and 2006 Conferences, there was a demand for promotion of leisure sports, but the government’s priority became the hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, and further Conferences were not promoted. What we can learn from the Brazilian case, theoretically, is that: (1) adventure tourism in Brazil promotes a more dependent version of an adventure activity, privileging the inexperienced, who are less interested in learning the technical skills to become autonomous participants, and who would rather pay for someone to take him/her into the adventure; (2) claimed responsibility for determining how to regulate the risk comes closely related to the right to adventure commercial exploration; (3) in a hybrid sector, a policy for the field has to address the same amount of financial resources for the different agents in negotiation, or collaboration will be very difficult.