Thomas Cook is set to enter Russia's fast-growing tourist market, after the UK operator agreed to create a joint venture with Russia's Intourist.

Thomas Cook will take a 50.1% stake and pay $45m (£29m) in cash and shares.

Intourist was a monopolist in the Soviet travel market. It was privatised in the early 1990s.

Beach holidays in countries like Turkey and Egypt are in big demand among Russians, and Thomas Cook said it hoped to capitalise on this.

"The joint venture will include Intourist's outbound, domestic and inbound tour operating operations, as well as its retail travel network, and will focus on expansion in Russia and the other CIS countries," Thomas Cook said in a statement.

The deal does not include Intourist's hotels division.

Thomas Cook added: "Over six million Russians went on overseas, packaged holidays last year, and the market is expected to grow by a double-digit percentage in the coming years."

The UK company's shares rose following the news, up 1% in early afternoon trading in London.