AS York's "big wheel" reaches its second birthday, a tourist chief called today for it to become a permanent addition to the city's skyline.

Gillian Cruddas, chief executive of Visit York, said the Yorkshire Wheel at the National Railway Museum had attracted thousands of additional visitors to the city and generated significant additional income.

"It has far-reaching appeal and has been a hugely important addition to York's wide range of attractions," she said.

The Yorkshire Wheel has become an iconic part of York's skyline and has added a modern dimension to the city. We'd be very keen to see the wheel stay beyond the planned three years and hope that we can keep it in York."

Her comments came as the museum hinted that the wheel might stay beyond its scheduled minimum stint of three years.

A spokeswoman said that the wheel continued to be a valuable addition to the city of York and as it moved into its third year, was still attracting visitors from all over the country.

"The Wheel attracts both new and repeat audiences to the National Railway Museum and the city and we will continue to work with World Tourist Attractions, who own the Wheel, to review our plans over the coming year. We are committed to ensuring its continued success," she said.

"We are really pleased with the Wheel and the valuable and unique addition it has made to our visitor offer."

She declined to say how many people had been on the wheel, claiming such information was "commercially sensitive", but the numbers clearly run into many hundreds of thousands. By August 2006, just five months after the Wheel's launch on April 12, The Press was reporting that almost 200,000 visitors had already taken a ride - higher than had been expected.

The National Railway Museum said it had had 343,500 visitors since the Wheel opened in April, a big increase on previous figures, with more than half going on the wheel.

From the time it arrived, spin-off benefits were being felt across the city, with visitors "hooked" by the lure of the wheel going on to see other attractions.

But a visitor survey in 2006 revealed that York residents were also keen to go on the wheel, with 16 per cent of riders being local people.

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