Chan said his other wishes were for the full resumption of normal travel between the city and mainland China, collaboration among all walks of life and the achievement of effective governance and social harmony.
The government launched an online platform on December 28 as part of its effort to “trawl the world for talent” after the city’s workforce contracted by about 140,000 in the past two years.
The number of work visas issued also fell, from around 41,800 in 2019 to 13,800 in 2021.
Hundreds of people thronged the festival on the first day of the Year of the Rabbit with many crowding around a “wishing tree” in the village to throw charms for good luck.
Some told the Post that they wished the city would this year emerge from the misery caused by the pandemic.
They said they wanted good health and economic recovery for all as they at last could enjoy a Lunar New Year with few social-distancing restrictions.
“The pandemic has been going on for so long,” said Angela Chu, a medical professional in her 50s.
“I hope the number of cases will continue to fall as the borders reopen and that Hong Kong can return to prosperity and security. I also hope that everyone can earn lots this year.”
Chu added that she hoped the mask mandate would soon be lifted as well.
A 53-year-old father, who gave his surname as Chan, said he had also prayed for the city’s prosperity.
“We are finally happy and relaxed after three years of the pandemic. I wish for prosperity for Hong Kong, peace for the world and that everyone has a job, ” Chan said. “We hope my children get a good education and a good life.”
Festival organiser Lucas Cheung Yuk-man said he was satisfied with the attendance.
He added he hoped it would attract crowds of the pre-pandemic levels of more 100,000 during this year’s holidays.
“We put in lots of effort each year in hopes of organising the festival, but we couldn’t do that until this year as the pandemic eased,” Cheung said.
Meanwhile, week-long Lunar New Year fairs in 15 areas ended on Sunday morning, recording more than 1.14 million visitors in total. Visitor numbers at the biggest, the Victoria Park fair in Causeway Bay, peaked on Saturday with more than 100,000 attending.
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said about 85.6 tonnes of materials with reusable value were collected at the 15 fairs to strengthen recycling efforts, while vendors donated 150 pots of unsold flowers and plants to 30 care homes for the elderly and disabled, as well as two public hospitals.