Russia and the Ukraine could be as big a market as the UK or Germany in a decade, according to TUI Travel group chief executive Peter Long.

Long told The Travel Convention: “The shape of the world is changing, particularly in Russia, China and India.”

He said TUI Travel had identified particular potential in Russia. It has a population of 190 million, but only seven million travel overseas.

“The Russian market is coming of age quickly,” said Long.

“Over the next five to seven years, Russia could become similar to the UK or Germany. Russia might become one of our biggest businesses.”

The group has focussed on developing partnerships with existing tour operators and retailers in the country rather than acquiring or establishing its own brands. Long said: “I would rather have 49% of a strong partner, than 100% of nothing.”