A real newbie might discover they don't like touring. (It could happen!) Spending a ton of money would end up being a waste. For someone like that, or for kids who will outgrow their current bike, I'd recommend a non-suspension mountain bike. It should be from a reputable manufacturer, DEFINITELY NOT A DEPARTMENT STORE BIKE. Mountain bikes usually have more robust components - frame, spokes, hubs, etc. They have low gearing - necessary for a tourist to carry a load up hills. Used ones are cheap - check ebay - because they have been so much more popular than road bikes that there are thousands of them out there. In fact, I'll bet a newbie could find an aunt or uncle who has a nice old mountain bike sitting in the garage that they would let you have for a song.
My opinion is that suspension adds unnecessary weight for tourists who are going to be riding on roads so they are undesireable. However, they are very desireable for mountain bikers, so non-suspension bikes typically sell for cheaper on Ebay, Craigslist, garage sales, etc.
I would buy some higher-pressure, road-style tires. I'd add bar ends (if the bike didn't already have them) for some added hand positions.
After that there would be lots of options to think about, but the basics would be there.