At a forum hosted by Our Hong Kong Foundation about reshaping Hong Kong's soft power through the integration of arts, culture, business and social purposes, Chan said Hong Kong used to be a "cultural desert" but has evolved.

Taking a performance he saw two years ago as an example, Chan said he attended a classical music concert at AsiaWorld-Expo at the request of his son. To his surprise, the concert was viewed by a mainly young audience.

"When I arrived at the center I was shocked as 70 percent of the audience there were young people," Chan said. "I thought to myself did I attend the wrong concert? It's like a rock concert but it's classical music."

He said he could tell Hong Kong society has gone up one level as many young will gather for cultural events.

He added that the government has declared it will develop the sector under the national 14th five-year plan, such as putting resources into the West Kowloon Cultural District.

When he was a lawmaker, between 1998 to 2008, he had asked the government to encourage local youth to take part in arts, as many failed to see any opportunities in the field.

"The government said it would do it. But after 20 years it seems like it fails to create a trend. The government should do more," Chan said.

Attending the same forum, the chief executive of New World Development, Adrian Cheng Chi-kong, said in the early 1980s, Hong Kong was a leading cultural products exporter to the world but its cultural influence has diminished.

He said Hong Kong needs to create a "Silicon Valley of culture" to preserve and pass on Hong Kong's traditions, culture and arts.

Cheng added that his company, CTF Education Group, will promote education related to performance art in the future, such as building an international school in Panyu district in Guangzhou with a huge music and drama hall.

He also said sales at Tsim Sha Tsui's K11 Musea increased by more than 40 percent year on year in the first two months this year, and the March sales were up 1.5 times.

Twenty-four more K11 malls can be expected to be opened in Hong Kong and across the Greater Bay Area and Yangtze River Delta, bringing the total to 38.