BANGKOK, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- Some 31.18 million foreigners have visited Thailand this year, breaking last year's record and many more are expected to follow during the upcoming New Year season, Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said.

More than 1.6 million travelers from around the world have visited Thailand from Dec. 1-18, generally viewed as a peak of high season, and generated about 2.4 billion U.S. dollars in cash flows inside this country, Kobkarn said Wednesday.

Since the beginning of last January up to now, some 31.18 million foreigners worldwide have visited Thailand, generating some 43.3 billion U.S. dollars in tourism-related incomes.

Nevertheless, the authorities had earlier forecast that as many as 32 million world travelers would visit this country throughout this year.

Kobkarn confirmed that the Ministry of Tourism and Sports has planned to turn the country into regional hub of tourism in several aspects throughout next year.

That refers to sports-related tourism, aquatic tourism, medical and wellness tourism, wedding events for foreign couples and Thailand's connectivity with neighboring countries in terms of land, sea and air transports for world travelers to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community.

In particular, Phuket, the country's largest island, is scheduled to host an international event called "World Wedding Congress" in May.