Australia's airline sector will need to ramp up capacity to meet increased demand after China lifted quarantine requirements for incoming travellers for the first time in three years.
With just a third of flights running from pre-pandemic levels, friends and families along with tourists risk missing out unless airlines can be attracted back to the table.
Australian Airports Association CEO James Goodwin said capacity wasn't expected to be back to the levels of before COVID-19 hit until 2024 or 2025.
"There's about half a dozen flights a day coming in from China ... we're not expecting that that will increase dramatically for a number of months," he told AAP.
"It does take a long time in the aviation sector to really plan routes, plan networks, plan the staffing and so on. It's not something you can turn on overnight."
Mr Goodwin said China was Australia's number one source of tourists before COVID hit, a title now taken by New Zealand.
He expected Australia's first wave of travellers from China would be friends and families reuniting, before tourist numbers started to take off.
Renewed diplomatic ties between the two countries would also be vital.
"The work the government needs to do to build that relationship with China is very important because we know the Chinese population will want to travel somewhere where they feel safe and comfortable," Mr Goodwin said.
"To encourage more travellers from China into Australia ... we have to work collectively to encourage those airlines to start travelling to Australia again."
Mr Goodwin had "no significant concern" around Australia's entry requirements for travellers from China, which requires them to present a negative COVID test on arrival.
Global Centre for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations head Jane Halton backed the measure, despite Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly warning the federal government was against the move.
"We need to understand there's more in the world than just medical advice," she told ABC Radio.
"We want to know as fast as possible if there's a new and really difficult variant. We want to put pressure on everybody to make sure they have transparency about variants."
China's ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian is expected to shed light on the thawing relations between the two countries when he addresses media in Canberra on Tuesday.