VIRGINIA BEACH -- Hotel sales in the resort city rose during the three months of the summer season to $58.24 million, an increase of 11.2 percent over the $52.36 million generated in the summer of 1986, tourism officials said last week.

The Virginia Beach Tourist Development Division also reported that restaurant sales in Virginia Beach followed a similar upward trend during the summer.

Restaurant sales in June, July and August were $97.38 million, an increase of 10.1 percent over the $88.41 million recorded for summer 1986, said Jim Ricketts, coordinator of the tourism division.

The announcement at a news conference came as the city battles an image problem and glum warnings of a tourism decline. "We had a very good summer tourism season, and we're in the midst of a very good 1987 as well," Ricketts said. " ... These results were achieved during a time of intensifying competition from other resorts and vacation destinations, which makes them all the more meaningful to the city and the tourism industry."

For the month of September, hotel sales were $8.71 million, an increase of 6.4 percent over last September's $8.19 million. Total hotel sales for the year through September were $89.73 million, up 9.1 percent from $82.21 million during the same nine-month period a year ago, Ricketts said.

In recent years, studies and reports have criticized the area's appearance, and some have said it was failing to keep pace in an increasingly competitive tourism industry.

"There is a perception that the actual business has been declining and that is not true. We have been increasing every year," Ricketts said. "I think what the problem is that in terms of our demographics, our business is being affected more by national trends than by local factors such as our infrastructure." At the end of 1987, Ricketts predicted Virginia Beach would have an overall tourism growth of 10 percent for the year.