The U.S. State Department yesterday arranged to airlift more than 150 American tourists stranded in northern Tanzania to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Along with hundreds of tourists of other nationalities, they had been detained for three days by Tanzanian authorities, but said they were well cared for in luxury hotels, special correspondent Roger Mann reported.

The tourists, almost all clients of two New York travel agencies, were unwitting victims of growing political tension between Kenya and Tanzania that escalated after the collapse of East African Airways 10 days ago. The airline was jointly owned by the two countries and Uganda.

On Friday morning, hours after Kenya announced formation of a new national airline. Tanzania sealed the border between the two countries, stranding the tourists.

The tourists said they were ordered to go to Arusha and the Kenyan drivers of their tour buses were questioned by police.

Yesterday's 200-mile flight from Arusha to Nairobi aboard a chartered airliner was arranged by the State Department, but paid for by the tourists, who were charged $50 each.

Among the tourists arriving here were Dr. Marvin Sheldon of Bethesda, Md., Malcolm Morse of Chevy Chase, Md., and Michele Rothe, an employee of American Security Bank in Washington.